When you think of the church, what comes to mind? It is the church that you lead or attend? Is it the people who make up your church? Is it the universal church with its many different denominational and cultural expressions? I think for many of us – our vision of the church is to small.
In Jesus’ final prayer before His death, He prayed:
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they may also be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me.” (John 17: 20-21 ESV)
Jesus’ desire was for a unity in His people that reflected the divine connectedness that holds the Triune God together. He wanted us to be one – a Church living according to His Great Commission showing a picture of the gospel to the world.
I think that it is easy for those of us who serve in local churches to lose Jesus’ vision for His church. We get so busy building our own kingdoms of ministry that we forget that Jesus called us to be a part of a bigger kingdom. We can become so busy in our own programming, activities, and interests that we miss the needs in our community and the other churches that God has put around us..
There is a missional necessity that we see ministry as a community effort for the Kingdom of God. Jesus said that by uniting together we would show the world what He is like plus the depth of needs around us are so much bigger than we want to admit. A united church reaching a city intentionally for the gospel is the biblical call.
All of the letters in the New Testament written to churches were addressed to a united church within a selected geographical location. They were not written to a fraction of the people in one city. This writing approach was intentional with the goal of uniting the Christians of the city to meet the needs of the city.
We need to evaluate our approach to ministry. Do we honestly know other people and churches in the community? Do we intentionally reach out to Christians of other faith traditions? Are we building our own kingdom or Jesus’ Kingdom?