Orginally published on Wednesday, February 21, 2007 at 7:14 AM
by Todd Rhoades
Ray Hollenbach has an interesting piece over at RelevantMagazine.com. He writes, "I recently saw this post in RELEVANT’s “Church” section of the message boards: I can't help but think of how Paul was never much of a member to one church, and one church only. Here’s a cultural truth: We bring to our reading of scripture whatever values we currently hold. Our eyes and hearts are sensitized to recognize the things we already agree with and to ignore those things which run counter to our convictions (and yes, I will readily acknowledge that I do it, too). So here’s the deal: I’ll agree that we don’t need to be connected to a local church only if...
(1) we have been members at a local church for at least a decade;
(2) we are called to missions by the Holy Spirit speaking to the church leadership;
(3) that call is affirmed by those guys in church leadership; and
(4) we return to that church after our missionary journeys to report on our ministries.
The first three verses of Acts chapter 13 are clear beyond cultural leanings—Paul and Barnabas were invested in the body of believers in Antioch. The church in Antioch was a powerful testimony of a multi-ethnic community that embodied the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Paul and Barnabas were a part of a leadership team who heard the voice of the Spirit together and even after hearing prayed and fasted together before ordaining two of their own to missions. Then to drive the point home, the Scripture reports that at the end of this journey Paul and Barnabas returned to their home church and gave a report of what God had done (Acts 14: 26-28).
From time to time someone I don’t know comes to me at our church—I’m the pastor (yes, they’ll let anyone do it these days)—and says to me, “I need a ‘covering’ for my ministry. Will your church be my covering?” My response is usually something like “Yes! We’re all about releasing people into their calling and ministry. Why don’t you hang out with us for six months or so, and we’ll consider laying our hands on you and asking for God’s blessing on your calling.” It only takes about two weeks, and that guy is gone!
FOR DISCUSSION: Have you experienced this same thing? Do you agree with Ray on the importance of the local church?
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