“What’s wrong with that church?” she asked me in a hushed voice as she leaned in close. There I stood in the lobby of our church in 2008 with one of the members looking for insider information. “Which church are you talking about?” I responded, genuinely confused.
“The one you prayed for this morning during worship,” she said.
Then it clicked. She was so taken back by the fact that I had prayed for another church in our city that she assumed, based on practices many Christians learn in “prayer meetings,” my prayer was my way of saying: “Something is wrong. I can’t really tell you about it but I can alert you by ‘praying’ for them.”
Most evangelical churches that are faithful to preach the gospel are eager to do God’s work. While they represent this in a variety of ways, it usually includes baseline expectations of evangelism and discipleship. They organize their meetings, hire their staff, train their volunteers, structure their programs, and build their buildings with these intentions in mind. If they have been at it for any length of time and God has blessed their labor, they have seen fruit. Lives have been impacted. Homes have been changed. Relationships have been deepened.
Yet many local churches are tempted to conduct themselves as if they didn’t know any other local evangelical churches existed around them. Or, if they acknowledge them, they are chasing “end-of-the-year bonuses” by competing with and beating out other churches in ministry. Add to this the fact that many pastors struggle with finding their identity in the size of their church, and it is no wonder that many forget the kingdom for which we are laboring.
Caring about the Family
Inherent to being a disciple of Christ is your identity with and care for other Christians. The imagery used to describe these relationships ranges from body to family. From the very first pages of Acts, the people of the church are depicted as caring for each other. Resources were given from one’s overage to care for another’s lack (Acts 2:42-45). As Christians were scattered and evangelistically fruitful, the new local churches practiced what they first learned in Jerusalem (1 Thess. 1:6-9).
But this loving attitude was not localized to only those within their assemblies. They were even encouraged to share the lessons they were learning with each other (Col. 3:16). They didn’t just share the lessons they learned; they shared their funds as well (2 Cor. 8:1-7). Included in the litany of ways Christians cared for each other was the instruction to practice praying for one another (Col. 4:2-4).
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SOURCE: Ligonier Ministries