Lesson NINE

The Local Church

What Is the Purpose of My Involvement in a Local 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 purpose 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.

The purpose of this lesson is to impress upon the individual the central role which the Church should play in his everyday life and explain the special relationship they have with other Christians.

What Is the Local Church?

A.     It is not a building.
  1.   We worship god in spirit and truth (John 4:24).
  2.   Our bodies are the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19).
B.     It is not a denominational group of congregations.
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. "The Church" is the body of Christ, the saved multitudes from every nation.
  1.   Paul, writing to saved people, states clearly, "ye are the body of Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:27).
  2.   Paul compares the Church body to the human body in 1 Corinthians 12:14-27.
    a. Each member has a different function (vs. 14-20)
    b. No one member can function alone (vs. 21).
    c. Each member's contribution is important (vs. 22-24).
    d. A properly functioning body operates as a single unit (vs. 25-27).

What Is the Function of the Local Church?

A.     The first local church in the Bible was organized in Jerusalem (Acts 2:41-47). 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 (v. 41), and the Lord's Supper (v. 42).
  5.   To be a testimony of God's grace and power (v. 43).
  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).
B.     The single most important priority of the local church is to edify (build up, teach, strengthen) the saints (Ephesians 4:11-16).

How do I Function Properly in the Church Body?

A.     During your Christian life, you should mature in three broad, general stages:
  1.   Observe and learn: Your first priority should be to submit to the teaching of the Word of God to learn to be the man or woman God wants you to be (2 Timothy 2:15).
  2.   Participate: In time, you will naturally grow to the point where you can begin to serve and take on some basic functions through the already established ministries of your church (James 1:22-25).
  3.   Lead: As your growth continues, you should reach the point where you can begin to minister to other in the same way you have been ministered to (2 Timothy 2:2).
B.     These three stages can be roughly compared to the stages of growth physically; child, youth, adult.
C.     Be patient! This process takes time. Just be sure to remain faithful to God's Word and His established institution, the local church.

How Do I Find the Particular Local Church that God Wants Me to Serve Through?

A.     Pray about it! Ask God to show you which church to associate yourself with (James 1:5).
B.     Observe the qualities of a particular church and compare them with the biblical requirements of a proper church.
  1.   Do they believe and teach the Bible as the Word of God and the infallible guide for life (Titus 1:9)?
  2.   Is the membership encouraged to read and study the Bible as much as the leadership does (Acts 17:10-12)?
  3.   Is there evidence of soul winning (Matthew 7:20; Acts 2:47)?
  4.   Do they minister to the needs of people (Acts 6:1)?
  5.   Do they send out and support missionaries (Acts 13:1-3)?