What is My Role in the Church?
God has established three major institutions on this earth: the family, civil government, and the local church. It is the local church which has been commissioned by God to carry out His purposes in reaching the lost and perfecting the saved. Therefore, God’s plan for a Christian will always be fulfilled best when connected with the local church.
Today, I want to address the topic of our role as a member of the local church. In other words, what part are we, as individuals, to play in the local church? It is necessary to establish some things first.
I. What is the local church?
A. It is not a building.
Acts 14:27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.
1. We worship God in spirit and truth.
John 14:24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.
2. Our bodies are the temple of God.
1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
B. It is not an invisible – universal – intangible – indescribable something or other.
1. Certainly everyone who places their trust in Jesus Christ are saved.
2. Salvation is in Christ…not in the church.
3. We become a part of the body of Christ…but that body does not function outside of the local congregation.
4. So when we speak of the church…we are talking about the local assembly.
C. A local church is a body of men and women who have been saved and called by God to serve in a specific area.
1. In I Co. 12:27, Paul, writing to the saved people who are in the local congregation at Corinth, states clearly, “ye are the body of Christ.”
2. Paul compares the church body to the human body in this passage – 1Co.12:14-27.
a. Each member has a different function. vs 14-20
b. No one member can function alone. v 21
c. Each member’s contribution is important. vs 22-24.
d. A properly functioning body operates as a single unit, vs 25-27.
II. What is the function of the local church?
A. The first local church in the Bible was organized in Jerusalem. (Acts 2:41-47)
B. The believers there organized their church for the following purposes:
1. The teaching of the word of God, v 42.
2. Fellowship with other believers, v 42.
3. Prayer, v 42.
4. The observance of the two ordinances of the church: baptism, verse 41, and the Lord’s supper, verse 42.
5. To be a testimony of God’s grace and power, v43.
6. For mutual assistance and ministry, vs 44- 45.
7. To reach out into the community, vs 46-47.
8. To glorify and praise God, v 47.
C. The single most important priority of the local church is to edify (build up, teach, strengthen) the saints. Note: Ep. 4:11-16
III. How do we function in the church body?
A. During our Christian life, we should grow through three broad, aeneral stages, as outlined in Ephesians 4:12.
1. The perfecting of the saints – Observe and learn.
a. Our first priority should be to submit to the teaching of the word of God to learn to be the man or woman God wants us to be.
b. Matthew 11.28-30
Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
2. The work of the ministry – Participate.
a. In time, we will naturally grow to the point where we can begin to serve and take on some basic functions through the already established ministries of our church.
b. Matthew 4:19
Matthew 4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.
c. James 1:22; 25b
James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
3. The edifying of the body of Christ – Lead.
a. As our growth continues, we should reach the point where we can begin to minister to others in the same way we have been ministered to.
b. The writer of Hebrews rebuked the Hebrew Christians like this.
Hebrews 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
c. Paul instructs Timothy concerning teaching others.
2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
B. These three stages can be roughly compared to the stages of growth physically: childhood, youth, adult.
C. Be Patient. This process takes time. Just be sure to remain faithful to God’s established institution, the local church.
IV. Basic questions.
A. If God moves me to another location, how do I find the particular local church that God wants me to serve through?
1. Pray about it! Ask God to show you which church to associate yourself with.
James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
2. Observe the qualities of a particular church and compare them with the biblical requirements of a proper church.
a. Do they seem concerned for the lost in their community?
Matthew 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Acts 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
b. Do they believe and teach the Bible as the Word of God and the infallible guide for life?
Titus 1:9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers
c. Is the membership encouraged to read and study the Bible?
Acts 17:10-12 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.
d. Do they minister to the needs of people?
Acts 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration
e. Do they send out and support missionaries?
Acts 13:1-3 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away
The question is, are we meeting the Scriptural requirements of a local church? Certainly there are areas that we need to strengthen. We are a growing organism…we have not arrived! We continue to grow as a church because of each individual member.
I saw a former member the other day at the grocery store. We talked for a while, and they mentioned that they were curious about who was still here as members. This church is not the same church as it was one, two, three, or few years ago…five years ago…or even a month ago. We are changing, because our members are changing. That is healthy!
As members, are you continuing to grow and develop? Are you functioning within this local body? If you are saved tonight and not a part of a local church, you need to be a member. Join and begin to serve. If you have never been saved, the greatest need in your life right now is to know Jesus Christ as your Savior. Come tonight, whatever the need.