WCAS Principles of Action #5
Principle #5: Participants are active and responsible members in their local congregation.
What comes to your mind when you think of your local church? Whatever the particulars, it is essential to step back and view your local congregation through the eyes of inspiration.
I find the following two passages wonderfully effective in elevating my love and appreciation for Jesus’ Church:
Ephesians 3:8-11, NIV: “Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to His eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Ephesians 5:15-21, NIV: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
As to the purpose and mission of the church, don’t miss the great controversy theme in these verses. The first passage is amazing in its scope, having in its purview, not only the local and the global, but angelic powers and unfallen worlds (cf. Colossians 1:19, 20). The second passage is very descriptive of what the body-life of every local congregation should look like, though there are inherent tensions within to be managed by the grace and power of God, as it lives and shares the gospel in the context of the Three Angels’ Messages as highlighted in Revelation 14:6-12.
These words from Ephesians 5 set the highest standard for the congregational life of the local church. In focusing on Principle #5, WCAS is dedicated to encourage and inspire each and all in our Adventist church families to be active and responsible members in their local church congregations. It is urgent that, by precept and example, we encourage all in this need. That this is needed is demonstrated by the following counsel:
“I was shown God’s people waiting for some change to take place, --a compelling power to take hold of them. But they will be disappointed, for they are wrong. They must act; they must take hold of the work themselves, and earnestly cry to God for a true knowledge of the work themselves. The scenes which are passing before us are of sufficient magnitude to cause us to arouse, and urge the truth home to the hearts of all who will listen. The harvest of the earth is nearly ripe.” Testimonies for the Church, Volume 1, page 216.
There is a sense in which the saying “All church is local” is really true. Worldwide, the Adventist church has about 155,000 congregations. But we are each a member of one of these congregations. The value of your engagement with your local church family in the mission of Christ cannot be overestimated. The following words make this clear: “The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work, and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers.…” Gospel Workers, page 352.
I conclude with several suggestions for becoming more engaged in your congregation—suggestions that reflect inspired counsel.
Have a meaningful prayer life patterned after that of Jesus. Prayer coupled with Bible study “brings the heart into immediate contact with the Well-spring of life, and strengthens the sinew and muscle of the religious experience.”
Take the initiative to mingle with others that we encounter as we work, shop, bank and carry out other daily activities.
”Solicit prayer for the souls for whom you labor; present them before the church as subjects for their supplication. It will be just what the members need…to feel a great burden, a personal interest, for a soul that is ready to perish. Select another and still another soul, daily seeking for the guidance from God…” Testimonies for the Church, Volume 6, pages 80-81.
Join or establish little groups for Bible study—have different ones lead out in a free, conversational study of the Scriptures (Testimonies for the Church, Volume 6, page 87).
Do your best never to contribute to internal conflicts. The spirit of independence is to be recognized in those who threaten to withdraw from the organized church or with those who stay within it to plant seeds of discontentment in the minds of her members.
Regardless of how one perceives the condition of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, God is in control. Failure on our part to believe this will lead either to discouragement or to a feeling that we need to take matters into our own hands.
Positively connect with your church’s youth. The local church is the spiritual home of our young people until it’s not. As one pastor has said, “Our young people are not leaving the General Conference, unions, and conferences; they leave the local church. Pastors in the local church, and the team they lead, play a pivotal role in shaping how their church ministers to their youth. Become a part of that team.”
In doing the above, others in the church will recognize those spiritual gifts that might be exercised via church leadership positions.