Are You a Missionary to Your Church?

“Birds of a feather flock together,” is one way to state it. “Sundays are the most divided day of the week,” is another way to say it. The fact is that Christians gather for worship, fellowship, and teaching where they are most comfortable. It is the familiar that attracts us.

The local church is the spiritual family for believers in Jesus. It is the Spirit of Christ who gathers God’s people for their edification and for them to serve Christ’s body in that place. Each member is uniquely gifted to minister to others as he or she is led by the Spirit.

Missionaries visit supporting churches on occasion. They tend to give abbreviated reports of their operations, whether local or afar. They talk to congregants and distribute literature or business cards. Mission work is a business within the church, requiring funding for diverse needs. There is competition and politics in this form of mission work.

Christianity is a splintered movement. After Rome consolidated power from the eastern churches, during the early centuries of the New Testament church, it held sway for five centuries with almost total control. The schism with the eastern church in the middle of the 11th century A.D. meant power sharing again. It was the Protestant Reformation, however, that fractured Rome’s monopoly in the West. The church in the West has been repeatedly dividing ever since. The Vatican would argue that is a bad thing. It certainly has opened the door of opportunity for the proliferation of Christian cults.

There is another type of missionary in the midst of the fragmented body of Christ. This is also a protesting reformer. This person, or couple, or family is not remunerated for their services rendered. They do not belong to a missionary agency. They are not working with a formal agenda. So, who are they and what do they do?

Let us call this person an “embedded reformer.” I have met a good number of these servants of Christ. A few of them are my good friends. Let us consider a few aspects of their situation and work.

First, they are embedded in a local church. What this means is that they do not really want to be there. For a myriad of reason, these people worship and fellowship where they are constrained to by providence. In other words, God directed their steps to a particular church. The situation is not preferred, but the constraint is there, nonetheless.

Second, these missionaries are adept at spiritual discernment. There is a reason or maybe more than one reason they do not prefer to be in attendance or in membership. Still, they faithfully attend and serve.

Third, it is the discontent derived from the discernment that positions these missionaries as reformers in the place they find themselves.

Fourth, the work of the protesting, reforming, missionary is to influence and labor for a local church to become more in alignment with the Bible. This may be alignment in doctrine or practice or both. Some missionaries of this kind will seek the office of an elder so to influence from that position. Others will find it difficult to work within the current political structure because of the types of corruption in the status quo.

As a segue, one reason for the endless splintering is the fact that many discerning discontents are not constrained by circumstances. Rather, they are free to leave. They do so in order to start something new. Their labors have been frustrated to the point of separation. For the ambitious, they begin a new work, not as a plant from the old stock, but they are rebels and often sheep stealers.

It is not our objective here to judge those who separate themselves from particular local churches or denominations. Some leave what has degenerated into an apostate church. Others simply want to go their own way and do so without the blessing and support of the mother congregation.

Returning from our segue, he or she who remains in the not-so-ideal setting is a vital servant of the Lord. Most of these brethren do not hide their status as those who would leave said church if their circumstances changed.

Helping the brethren see more light, hence, more truth, facilitates their growth in the knowledge of Christ. This can be done formally or informally. Protesting, reforming, missionaries are still learning and maturing, too. The ministry is their burden to bear and most suffer in their service to Christ’s church because they do not fit in. They are also not along for the ride. Reformation is in their hearts.

Reforming missionaries can be shunned for their speaking the truth in love. They may be interpreted by others as pests, a nuisance, or a troubler of Israel. It is here where we see the spirit of the prophets and apostles who disturbed the status quo in their days.

Reforming missionaries are not destroyers. They love Christ’s church, which is why they suffer where they are called and constrained to serve. They long for alignment in the way they long for heaven. Still, they press on with labors as unto the Lord in the quest to see fellowship, worship, doctrine, and practice regulated by what is seen in the Bible.

May God bless and confirm the work of the protesting, reforming, missionary embedded in your local church. You may not even know who they are, but I encourage you to pray for them and their valuable work.

David Norczyk

Spokane Valley, Washington

September 5, 2021

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Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher

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David Norczyk

Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher