HOW ARE WE TO SERVE AS A LOCAL CHURCH?
In Acts 2:42-47 we learn the role of the church after Pentecost. The church engaged in worship to God, in studying of God’s word, in fellowship with brethren, and in evangelizing the lost. Service was the attitude and mission of our brethren from yesteryear. This needs to be our concern today and beyond, for service in these areas meet the needs of all.
Service sent upward is worship. Service sent inward is study. Service sent outward is fellowship. Service sent downward is evangelism. (This is not to say those outside of Christ are lower than us, but as Christians we are in the ark of safety reaching down into the sea of sin in an effort to rescue those drowning in iniquity.)
The first element of service is worship. Worship is the celebration of God for who He is, what He has done, and what we trust Him to do. Christians are worshipers first of all because God is worthy of our worship and He has decided worship is the mechanism by which we connect with Him. We must understand where there is no worship, there is no divine contact and God is not being served.
The second element of service is the study of God’s word. In the first century, Christians had the actual apostles. But as 21st-century Christians, we have the complete written word of God, which includes the apostles’ doctrine.
In John 8:32 Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Jesus is telling us “it is the truth we know that will make us free.” We must understand the mere existence of truth does not set people free. It is through studying, understanding and applying God’s word appropriately that we can line our lives up with His revealed will.
By studying the word of God, we can and we will become more like Jesus. If we are not looking like the Master more today than yesterday, then we are not serving the soul. Rather, we are hurting the soul.
The third element of service is fellowship. Fellowship is a much-misused term because many in the realm of religion have failed to view this term contextually. Fellowship has a general definition, but it is specified by its usage in scripture. Therefore, for the sake of this article, we will give fellowship the definition of “the sharing of the life of Christ among believers.”
Jesus is quoted as saying in Acts 20:35, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” When God blesses us, He wants to make sure that in being blessed we are a conduit (a means by which something is transmitted) to bring blessings to others. It is obvious this cannot occur if we are trying to live the Christian life alone, disconnected from the rest of the body of Christ, especially of those among the local church. If we are disconnected, then we become a cul-de-sac instead of a conduit, always taking in but never giving back.
God expects us to serve one another through edification, support and benevolence. How wonderful would the church be if we stop asking the question, “What’s going to happen to me if I help my brother?” and start asking the question, “What’s going to happen to my brother if I don’t help him?”
The fourth element of service is evangelism. Worship, Bible teaching and fellowship are wonderful, but the good news has to go beyond the walls of the church building. There has to be an outlet to the unsaved world, and we do this when we go and present the gospel to the world.
What happens when the church is fulfilling its God ordained purpose? In Acts 2:47, the Bible reads, “Praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” The church enjoyed favor with all the people, and they successfully made converts of those who would receive the message. This was not because the church was soft-pedaling the message of Christ to make it popular but because Christians believed Matt. 28:18-20was still in the Bible.
Therefore, when the local church worships God, studies His truth, promotes biblical fellowship and tells others the gospel, we will not have any problems pleasing God, ministering to the needs of all and making heaven our home.