I believe that each local body reflects the need of the day. If a town is very poor, than God brings a body to that town to alleviate the need of the poor. One might say that the situation, at large, is what necessitates a local body. This is consistent with how Paul planted and maintained churches. The first need to be addressed was always discipleship. But discipleship always looked a certain way. In Titus, Paul encourages him to teach the ministers to meet the urgent needs of others. At that time, the urgent need in the Roman empire centered around poor people, orphans and widows. These were those who fell through the cracks of Rome’s limited welfare system. So we can see that a local body serves a local need through a level of discipline. It provides a spiritual hospital where immediate needs can be managed. It teaches preventative spiritual care through doctrinal teachings and sermons and it sends ambulances out to retrieve and triage those who need an immediate response. What is a hospital without sick or hurt? It wouldn’t exist without such things. That said, there is a level of escalation to consider. The presence of a thriving medical community also creates a certain swell of gravity for the sick or hurt or dying. A large city needs many hospitals, but having many hospitals attracts more people who need care. This is the same for an active local body. Not all local bodies are hospitals. Some local bodies are gyms, some are cafe’s, some are schools, some are industrial plants, etc. Whatever function the local body serves in providing the Kingdom with its needed resources, the better it does at its job… the more gravity it has. This comes at a cost. Often times, the thriving hospital you see before you was once a clinic ,and before that a small group of well intentioned doctors, and before that med students with a dream, and before that children wanting to help people. The clients that the Hospital served were once simple and easily solved issues. But as the clinic blossoms into a Hospital, more specialized issues begin to walk through the doors. A local body is much the same way. Luke speaks or the 10 Servants in Chapter 19:
“..and to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away.”
So…. does the church create the need or does the need create the church? To speak on this… it is a symbiosis. A church that is fulfilling its responsibilities to its community and calling will create a gravity toward those it ministers to. If ABF is called to the misfits and ministers to them properly… then the misfits will come. And when they arrive, they will be progressively difficult to handle. This will require the church to adapt with more progressive and specialized resources to meet these needs. This will require patience, prayer, education, grounding and support. When things get harder, it doesn’t always mean that we are doing badly, it can also be a sign that our Master has decided we can handle more…. To those who serve well, more will be given.
*This is an excerpt from personal correspondence and was not intended as a blog.