Jesus is the Author of the local Church, He loves the local church and has one prepared for each believer. We see the birth of the NT Church in Acts 2, and then much of the inner workings of the church recorded for us in Acts 13, Acts 9, Acts 10 and throughout the entire letters to the Church. In many places in the United States there are many varieties of churches in your area. There might be many that preach the Word, are spirit filled and move in signs, wonders and miracles. So which one? The issue of WHERE to attend church is like any issue for the believer, that we submit the issue to the Lord and go where He tells us to go. The Lord is a GOOD Shepherd and has supplied and provided a church for EVERY believer. So we go to Him directly and ask Him what is the place you have prepared for me?’ and then when we get there we stay and pray. We always say ‘God has a spouse, and God has a spouse’ for you. God is SPECIFIC, let HIM do the choosing.
Anything that GOD choses for us, HE will back up.
In my background, I was raised in a family where we were one of 5 families that helped to plant a local church. So I grew up in an environment where our home life revolved around church. Both my parents served as education director, overseer to the elders, worship leader and building person, which gave me the opportunity to serve in worship, youth group, home visits to sick people, and help wherever else was needed. I learned growing up that church is family, and it works by everyone pitching in.
When the Lord moved us to Texas, He joined me to another small local church, a non-denominational Church where we were taught the Word and how to live and work in another small community of believers. Again, there was the reality of everyone having to pitch in and do a little bit of everything. From cleaning the building to mowing the lawn, having church camp outs, small women’s bible studies and prayer groups, we were part of everything that happened there. The church family became my family, as I was 20 and knew no one on the island when I arrived. It was a wonderful place to learn to love Jesus and serve together. The pastor’s wife was an artist, as I was by trade. It was congregationally led, so we all had the opportunity to bring our own outreach ideas into the church and participate on many different levels. I met my husband at the church, and we served for years as deacons and women’s ministry leaders and with the youth.
We had planned on being at that little church where we were highly effective for the rest of our adult lives. However, after the Lord healed me supernaturally, and then baptized me in the Holy Spirit, He supernaturally added us to a local spirit filled church in an audible voice.
Once we got there, we assumed it would operate like the churches we had grown up in or had been in the first 40 years of our lives. We expected to be part of the group that served, led and planted the church like we had been at every other church. That is not what happened. We found ourselves having to navigate an entirely different landscape. We found ourselves in a very unknown world, having to navigate things we had never run across before.
And so we started to the process of learning and growing and adapting. Being part of a local church is not an option for a believer because we are commanded to not forsake the assembling of brethren, and we are to gather even more often as we see the day of the Lord approaching. There are many aspects of our lives as believers that we can learn to operate in outside of being planted in a local church. One is Ephesians 4:23 which says to be submitted one unto another. Along the way, we learned many general principles that we believe can help anyone navigate the local church. We started asking ourselves what it takes to be a ‘productive church member?’ What does that look like? Are there some biblical principles that are general and pertain to all of us?
Let’s take a look:
1.)The Lord is your Source, not the church itself. Not the pastor or anyone at the church. The Lord is still the Person who tells you your calling, who leads you, provides for you. The Lord and His Word is still the source of your faith. The Lord still speaks to you directly through the Word and the Holy Spirit. This is so important to understand. Even if you are in spirit filled, prophetic church the Lord still will speak to YOU directly through prayer and the Word. The role of a pastor or fivefold ministry gift in the Spirit filled church is to CONFIRM anything the Lord has told you, but the Lord will never tell someone else something about YOUR life FIRST. He ALWAYS speaks to you FIRST and then CONFIRMS it through others. Also, if the Lord added you to the church, the Lord should be the One directing to you where you serve in that church. Not other people. A local church is to have its parts assembled according to the direction of the Holy Spirit. Not according to who is friends with whom. The local church is never designed to be everything in your life or everything you are called to do. There will be some parts of your calling that intersect with the local church and some that don’t. As believers, the Holy Spirit moves through us at our jobs, and outside the four walls of the church. If you are spirit filled, only SOME of your service is IN the church, MUCH might be outside of it, like it was for us in nursing homes, hospitals, and the local jail. God really liked to use us to start new ministries in town and go places no one was going yet. He likes to lead all of us PERSONALLY according to HIS heart for the town and region and our calling and purpose in Him. Local church is not to take the place of that. Jesus is still Lord of your life when He adds you to a local church. If you could hear Him in an audible voice before you got added to the local church, He is not going to suddenly switch and start speaking to you through others as His primary means of communication. He is our High Priest, and we all have direct access to Him.
2.) Being added to a specific church does not negate any Bible verse. Especially in Luke 4, it says we are to love JESUS with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Our worship goes directly to Him. And He needs to stay our first love and on the throne of our heart. Remember our lives are lived unto Him. A church is where we gather
3.) Especially if you have been active in churches before, or you have a ministry call on your life, when you get to the Church that the Lord calls you to, get there and just attend services. Go to all of the services and sit and listen. Do not sign up for anything, do not ask to be included in any ministry. Sit and listen to the Word and just observe. Allow the Holy Spirit time to talk to you about that church, and let your spirit adapt to the spirit of the Church, and the culture of the Church. Every church has it’s own unique culture. Know that if you are called to do something at the church, leadership will be observing you and you need to let them do that. Pray over every service you attend and just stay tuned to the Spirit during the service to anything He wants to tell you or show you on any level, from your personal life to what He has for you to do there. Let the Lord lead. Good rule of thumb. And remember, the Lord is your source of ministry and destiny, not a local church. The further you go in your calling and destiny, the more focus that will take, and the Lord work out how that will intersect with a local church. That is all HIS choice and HIS business, do not make it your concern.
4.) Keep a strong prayer life. Pray over everyone at the church especially the pastor 1 Timothy 2:1 and then spend most of your time praying in the Spirit so that the Holy Spirit can direct your prayers wherever HE wants and according to what HE wants to do in that local assembly. Much of the time, He will have us pray and SAY nothing. Just pray and let Him move.
5.) Tithe. This is spiritual and it goes through the Local church but is RECEIVED in heaven. It is supernatural. Tithing does not mean you agree with how people are running the local church. It means you are obedient to the Word and obedient to be where the Lord called you to be. We tithe unto the Lord, not people.
6.) When we got to the church the Lord added us to that was one of the first conflicts we had, when my husband asked for a copy of the budget before he tithed and was told, not way, they would never do that, they didn’t have, didn’t need to have one, and would never give one to anyone. So I had to go home and smooth over the rough edges of how I had been barked at, and explain to my spouse that different people saw things differently, and every person just needed to follow their conscious on the matter. Just because you tithe doesn’t mean you agree with everything at that church. It means you know the WORD, love Jesus and are obedient to His Word. That is what it means.
7.) When you get there, be understanding and operate in supernatural understanding. Daniel 1:17 says God will give us understanding of anything put in front of us. That includes people and why they are the way they are. Not everyone should be just like you. If the Lord is building the church, it should have the same population and variety of people as is that town.
8.) In the church we got added to, there were all sorts of people and dynamics we had not seen before. There were people that had personalities Much different from us. Some people were very rules orientated; others were very free spirited. There were people from prison, jail, Doctors, etc. Men that were there to pick up women, people who sincerely loved Jesus. You name it, it was at that church. There was a lot to process and navigate. There were people who had grown up highly charismatic, which we had never been exposed to ever. There were people coming out of the Catholic Church and many other places that we could not really relate to, as far as a Bible understanding and much of how they interacted at church.
In our next segment we will continue to look at how it is our responsibility to stay in the Word and in prayer for ourselves while at any church. How we are called to bring TO the church our anointing, wisdom, Bible knowledge and ADD to what is already there. We also look at why there are so many different local churches and what some of the pitfalls are to them operating in the full capacity God wants them to.
Reach out to Sara below: