In my work with the SBCV, I have a distinct privilege of working with local churches and their pastors. As a pastor, I have been blessed to see local churches empowered by the Lord in advancing the Gospel. As a brother in Christ, and as a husband and father, I have seen first-hand the impact the local church has had in nurturing my own family in the Lord.
Just the other week, my oldest daughter had her wedding. We had the wedding at our local church. Our local church pastor ministered to our family. Our local church family helped us with the wedding and reception. This local church has had such a major role in the life and upbringing of my daughter, and we celebrated the start of her new young family with our church family.
The following Sunday, I preached from Philippians 1, and God’s Word reminded me of how blessed we are by the local church. As you minister and serve in your community, I pray you will be encouraged to keep pressing on as the local church…
Three encouragements for the local church…
1. Church Is More than Just Coffee – Local Churches are a FELLOWSHIP of the Gospel of Christ. (1:1–11)
The Apostle Paul wrote, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:3–6)
The local church is a fellowship, a partnership in the Gospel. We have something “in common.” We are brothers and sisters in Christ. The local church is not just another organization or option for activity. No organization in the world is like the local church. You are an embassy in a foreign land and ambassadors of Christ.
2. Church Is More than Just a Crowd – Local Churches are about FURTHERING the Gospel of Christ (1:12–18)
“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” (Philippians 1:12)
The word “further/advance” literally means “to cut a way before oneself.” - the picture is of someone hacking his way through thick underbrush and blazing a new trail. (Jay Adams, How To Handle Trouble, p. 11)
SBCV exists to come alongside local churches advancing the Gospel to reach our neighbors and the nations. Local churches are the Lord’s proclaimers of Good News and ministers of mercy.
The Lord can even use hardship and suffering in our lives to advance the Gospel. Your local church can bring joy to the lives of those going through tough times.
3. Church Is More than Just a Cause – Local Churches must be FAITHFUL to the Gospel of Christ (1:19–26)
The Apostle Paul wrote, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)
I think that is actually a pretty amazing statement. Paul had settled the focus and purpose of his life. In verse 19, Paul credits their prayers of the people and the help of the Holy Spirit with encouraging his perseverance. It seems the longer Paul lived, the more he recognized his dependency on God’s strength and need for God’s power.
I pray the Lord will encourage you through His Word to keep pressing on as a pastor, leader, partner in the local church. SBCV likes to say, “You are not alone.” Let’s be praying for one another. Let’s be encouraging one another. Keep pressing on as a local church.
SBCV counts it a privilege to serve your local church.
Your brother in Christ,