I love my church where I serve, but I'm also very grateful for the local church in general. In all its beauty and flaws, I can't imagine culture surviving without it.
Amid the pressures and problems leaders face, I've written this post as an encouraging reminder to all of us who serve in a local church. A reminder that even on the tough days, there is no greater privilege. And even in the difficult seasons there is no greater joy.
Perhaps this may serve you in your private devotions or a public message you need to deliver soon!
The points in the article are an expression of my personal thankfulness for the local church, but it's based on a foundation of Scripture. There is much I could choose, but two of my favorites are in the book of Ephesians.
"Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the entire building, tightly framed together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God through the Spirit" (Eph. 2:19-22, MEV).
"... so that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He completed in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him" (Eph. 3:10-12, MEV).
Here's why I'm grateful for the local church:
1. The church, through Jesus Christ, is the hope of the world. Jesus became my welcomed Savior when I was a senior in High School. My life was changed and God immediately re-charted my course to a life ministry as a volunteer. By the time I was graduating from college and pursuing a career in Criminal Justice as a Private Investigator, God soon refined my call to vocational ministry. My perspective in life, my purpose, and hope in the future radically changed.
This is my personal story, and Jesus provides salvation, purpose and hope for everyone who will say yes to Him. My gratitude is great toward The Father who would give His Son that I, we—might have eternal life. The local church is God's chosen plan for redemption!
2. The church gives more than it takes. The local church is the only organization I know that will provide all that it offers, for free, for anyone, for as long as they want. You do not have to pay to receive what the church has to offer. That is amazing.
The church is the body of Christ (the people) and they freely give so that others may receive the Good News of Jesus Christ. I'm grateful for the bride of Christ! I serve alongside some of the most amazing, generous and selfless Christians I've ever known at 12Stone Church. They give so much of themselves so that we may reach the lost, care for the least, and raise up leaders for the next generation to have a brighter future.
3. The church serves as a moral compass in a time when many have lost their way. My two "kids" are in their 20s now, one is married, one day both will likely have children of their own. These are complicated times to raise kids, much more so than when mine were little, some twenty years ago. What is right and what is wrong is not as clear as it once was.
I'm grateful that we have the Scriptures to point the way, to make clear what is right, and help keep us on track. I'm thankful for all the hard working pastors and teachers and volunteers, who are diligent to teach the Word as it stands, and to speak the truth in love.
The local church is a safe place to ask questions , seek truth, and discover the path to "life to the full." (John 10:10)
4. The church makes a big difference in the lives of the next generation. The more kids the better, and you can't have too many teens! Healthy churches love kids of all ages, and kids help make churches healthy. Kids are "messy"—life is messy, but it's family. That's a good thing. We learn better in community.
I've never been to a church that doesn't do its best to teach parents about raising great kids to be mature young adults. From sermons to small groups the training is so helpful. And churches work hard to invest great training directly to the kids and teens to help them grow up and live better lives; it's hard not to be thankful for that!
5. The church reminds us of what is important and what really matters. I attended a memorial service recently at one of our campuses. Though there was much human sorrow, there was also heavenly hope and joy. These moments always remind me of what really matters.
The person who passed away unexpectedly and young by comparison, was a successful businessman, but no one talked about that. They told stories about how great a dad and husband he was. They talked about how they will miss their great friend who made them laugh and was always there for them. And they talked about how his faith never wavered, and that now he is home with Jesus. A life well lived. His legacy carries on with honor.
The Church is flawed, but far more beautiful than broken, and I'm so very grateful. I pray your day is filled with joy as you reflect on the privilege you have to serve in His church.
Dan Reiland is the executive pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as executive pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as vice president of leadership and church development at INJOY.
For the original article, visit danreiland.com.
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