Role of the Church
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Image © Larry Torno from GoodSalt.com

Sometimes in our efforts to express the importance of conversion, or “being saved” we underestimate the role of the church. While we all understand that being joined to the church does not save us, it is or should be instrumental in us maintaining the saving relationship with Jesus. We are social creatures and we need the interaction with our community of believers as part of the “maintenance program” of salvation.

To give an example: I studied for a PhD, a degree that is supposed to demonstrate that I am capable of thinking through original ideas and doing individual research. Much of my study was based on research done quietly, often in the middle of the night. But an important part of my research program was to meet with the team and to interact with them in workshops, and seminars, sharing my ideas and in turn absorbing and understanding their ideas. While individual work was important, the shared experiences served as an opportunity to test and grow our experiences together. I owe a lot to the team.

Likewise, a church does much to aid the “salvation process”. When we associate together we contribute to one another’s salvation. Yes I know we are saved by grace, but grace and the community of believers together make for a winning combination.

I have had occasion recently to study some of the early church work in the Pacific Islands. The stories of the struggling church in these remote areas gives a picture of the difficulty of maintaining one’s faith when fellow believers are few. The missionaries would stay for a short while, open a little school and do some missionary work, converting one or two, then move on. Sometimes years would pass before another missionary would come into the area, only to find that the one or two who were converted had lost their faith. It took many years before there were sufficient members to support one another in their faith, and to become an effective witness in their area.

Churches in themselves are not perfect – how can they be when they are made up of people like me. But they are God’s instrument for maintaining our faith and we need to ensure that we value the church experience, and more importantly, contribute to it. The book of Acts provides ample evidence of the important role that the community of believers plays in the lives of individual members in a growing church.

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Posted in Body of Christ, Church Tagged , permalink

About Maurice Ashton

Maurice Ashton is a retired lecturer who lives in Australia. He taught Science and Mathematics at high school level before taking a research interest in Computer Science. He lectured at Avondale College for nearly 30 years before retiring in 2012. He is married to Carmel and they have two adult children and two grand children. Currently Maurice is pursuing a keen interest in bird photography and spends much of his time sitting in swamps observing and photographing birds. He has been involved with Sabbath School Net since about 1997.

Comments

Role of the Church — 5 Comments

  1. Thanks much, Maurice, for this timely reminder that "the church" is still important. In western countries we are too focused on individuals, in contrast to the biblical focus of the "body of believers." I think we'll find, if we examine God's messages in the Bible, that the major emphasis is on the body of believers, rather than the individual. That's not to say that we are saved as a body, but the grace of God is best revealed in the body of members and the way they relate to each other.

    After all, it was Jesus who said, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." (John 13:35)

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    • We have to put hands together to evangelize the Gospel to the whole earth as the Apostles did at earlier church to spread the Gospel.

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  2. It’s funny, but I never really sat down and thought about how the role of the church itself can get lost through all of the hustle and bustle. My favorite line is: “a church does much to aid the ‘salvation process.’” You are so right! My church is my community, and we work together to support one another and be the best people we can be. Thank you for this important reminder.

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  3. I share the similar views with Maurice on how the church can help an individual believer grow and also work as a team but my experience is quite different. I have found myself in a community where two churches have been put together as one because of their membership, however, the nature and enthusiasm of the members does not encourage me in anyway whatsoever to have fellowship even though I try hard to corporate and work with them. My point is that in order to work effectively as a church and not as individuals it is imperative for the entire church to adhere to planned programs of evangelism and witnessing well. Individual members also play their honest part in whatever way they can to help in propelling the gospel to the outside world. let us not forget that the church is a unit and a body of persons put together so it stands as one and not as individuals.

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  4. Brother, thank you for reminding us on what the church is supposed to do. The church still has a role to do, especially in nurturing its members whether new or old members! In here we should remember that we are the members of the church who make the church to exist so the church is not a pastor nor an elder - we are all forming the body of Christ, the church.

    There are some people/members of the church who keep on blaming the church that it does not do this and that while they are sitting idle. For instance, they may see new baptized members are backsliding. Instead of taking it to him as one of the responsibilities to help the needy, he starts murmuring and pointing fingers to the elders.

    NO! We have something to do; our lesson told us we have to LOVE each other, FORGIVE eacn other, to PRAY for one another.

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