In the sweep of Christian history there are very few famous local churches. Take this 10-second quiz. Answer as quickly as you can.
1. Name three local churches from the 1800s that made an impact on the world for Christ. Don’t think about famous buildings, but well known ministries of specific local churches.
2. Name three Christians or Christian families from the 1800s that made an impact on the world for Christ.
I don’t know about you, but I am completely stumped on #1. I can’t name one, let alone three. How did you do? What about question #2? I imagine you were able to come up with a few names.
If we allow ourselves to move into the 20th century, the second question becomes even easier.
So, why it is easy to name Christians and Christian families who have impacted the world for Christ but so difficult to name Christian churches? This is because of the unique jurisdictional callings God has placed on individuals, families, and churches. Local churches are charged with an “inward” mission. God has created the institution of the local church for believers to gather for worship, the ministry of the Word, for care, and for equipping. When the local church does what God calls it to do, it releases trained, passionate, biblical Christians and Christian families into the world. These Christian individuals and Christian families then engage in externally focused, gospel living in their neighborhoods, nations, and to the ends of the earth!
The point here is not that local churches are not important, but exactly the opposite. For the many thousands of “famous” Christians, and for the many billions of not-so-famous ones, God has created His institution of the local church to secretly nourish them, bless them, equip them, hold them accountable, and partner with them so God’s calling on their lives might reach its full measure!
I develop these thoughts at length in Limited Church: Unlimited Kingdom – Uniting Church and Family in the Great Commission – download a free chapter HERE.