In the grand scheme of things, how important is your church?
Let’s think together about church, and in particular the church where you are a member. If it is like most churches today it is not very large (probably less than 200 people). You may be tempted to think that your church in its modest size is rather insignificant. When I talk to people about their churches I almost sense a little embarrassment about the size and perceived scope of their church. Apologetic words like small and ordinary come out. I would argue that these words are not bad at all—and perhaps even quite accurate—but it is the sentiment behind them that is concerning, especially in light of what the church is and does.
When you read that word ordinary, what do you think of? Common synonyms include unimpressive, typical, normal, and common. As soon as you attach these synonyms to a noun, you will draw conclusions: My day was typical. The movie was unimpressive. The book was average. When we think about the church in general and our church in particular, we might be a bit embarrassed to call it “ordinary.” But what if you don’t have thousands of members, a massive building, or the reputation for being the “cool church?” What if you are just a church? What if you are an ordinary ministry? Is this OK?
Here is the bottom-line reality: the church is the most important organization on the planet. Its importance and inherent value is not dependent upon size but substance. Let’s remember that the church has the highest calling on the planet. Her job is to glorify God. There is nothing more noble nor important than this. This does not impugn the importance of other organizations that do very good things, but it does relativize them. Nothing takes the place of prominence like the church. The church is the bride of Christ.
The church also has a tremendous impact on our present lives. As Christians gather and work together to hear and apply God’s word, they are serving to encourage each other to find our joy, identity, hope, meaning and purpose in God. We work together to glorify God by finding our true contentment in God. What a difference this is from where we were prior to conversion!
Furthermore, the church has the greatest impact. While many organizations may boast of real help for people in this world (and I praise God for them) only the church can truly say that it brings help in this world and the next. The church is involved in rescuing sinners from an eternity in hell. Think about this: we rejoice in a group that is able to help people get over addictions and enjoy a meaningful life. But, as good as this is, it only has an impact for a handful of decades. How much more does the church shine in her mission to seek and save the lost from eternal suffering?
As Christians we should be very careful not to attach unbiblical thinking to the church. However subtle or unintentional it might be, diminishing the beauty, primacy, and power of the church smudges the glory of Christ. It lets some air out of the tire that God has chosen to be his primary vehicle for displaying his glory.
Is your church ordinary? Small? Well, my Christian friend, if it is preaching the gospel and endeavoring to help others to know and follow Jesus then it is not insignificant. It is powerfully important and surpassingly glorious. And, you should praise God for it–even as you get to work in it!