April 4, 2013
Over the last two years, I have seen incredible life transformation with individuals living with HIV in Kenya. Why? I believe it’s because CFA has empowered local churches to reach people that no one else could. As I work with CARE for AIDS, God is teaching me the importance that He places on using the local church as His avenue to change the world. Even though I grew up going to church, it has not been until the last few years that I have really appreciated how essential the church is for relief and development ministry.
Jesus strategically started the church to shape community and model the Gospel for the world. God wants to use his people, his body, the church. When functioning properly, it is a place where people can learn, grow, worship, live, gain hope, and find God. There is no other place or institution on earth like it!
Based on my experience, this is why I now believe that the local church should be our primary agent for change in ministry, our plan A.
The local church is physically present in the community. It’s hard to be effective if you are distant and disconnected from the people you are serving. In a globalizing world with instant communication, we have lost the value of physical presence. We hold interviews over the phone, and we do business online. But the local church is right in the middle of the community it serves. It is present physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Therefore, it is uniquely positioned to engage and connect to the community.
The church is open to anyone that will come. There are no requirements, prerequisites, or stipulations. It is not a closed circle, but a radically inclusive gathering of believers. In fact, God commands believers to reach every people group in the world!
The local church is aware of the real needs of the community. Because it’s present, it can see and touch the underlying problems of the community. The church also has God-given insight through the Holy Spirit and scriptures about the nature and reality of life, purpose, sin, and struggles. Therefore, it knows and understands how to meet peoples true needs.
4. Alive and Active
Businesses, governments, and NGO’s come and go. But God himself lives, leads, and works through the local church. It is alive today like it was 2000 years ago, and it will continue to move and grow until Christ returns. It is the only institution that will eventually reach every culture and people group in the world.
The church has something the world needs, whether people admit it or not. It has the message of love, hope, and reconciliation with God. Ideally, people should be drawn to it because the people are living out the Gospel through grace, truth, and forgiveness. Not only does the local church have the ability to be relevant in every culture, it has the power to dictate and even change culture.
So, why do you think the local church is so important?