As I was driving in to work recently, I was listening to a local “Christian” radio station. As I listened to the co-host of the morning show directing people to their website to submit prayer requests, it caused me to pause. Have we in the church turned over discipleship and missions, the core elements of the church’s mission and vision, to the local radio station?
For instance, this particular station plays songs in order to provide encouragement to their listening audience. I visited their website and discovered a mission statement and doctrinal statement posted on their “about us” page.
Mission: Our mission is to extend the reach of Christian community, by affirming that which is positive in our culture, and penetrating our world as salt and light with the life transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ.
What We Believe:
- The Bible is the inspired, infallible, and only authoritative Word of God.
- There is one God, eternally existent in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
- In the deity of Christ; His virgin birth; His sinless life; His miracles; His vicarious and atoning death through the shed blood, His bodily resurrection; His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and His personal return in power and glory.
- The salvation of lost and sinful man regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.
- The present ministry of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.
- The resurrection of both the saved and the lost, those that are saved to the resurrection of life with God and those that are lost to the resurrection of separation from God.
- In the spiritual unity of believers in Christ.
- In the Biblical understanding of marriage, the family, and human sexuality.
- In a Biblical world view that requires all activities and resources of this ministry to be consistent with this Biblical world view and the Christian mission that it commands.
The radio station likewise offers the following discipleship and missions opportunities to their listening audience:
- Worship through song
- Worship through teaching and preaching
- Bible study (online with Andy Stanley’s literature)
- Service projects for needy families
While all of these things are not all negative, the fact is – this is the work of the local church. It’s the local church that should be leading the people in worship, Bible study, prayer, service projects, and mission engagements. One of the modern deficiencies of the evangelical church is seen in the amount of work turned over to parachurch ministries. Sure, it’s perfectly fine to partner with parachurch ministries such as seminaries, Bible colleges, and various other groups to accomplish ministry. However, it becomes sinful and deficient as the church turns neglects ministry by turning it over to parachurch organizations like the local radio station.
There’s a twofold problem when it comes to parachurch ministries. For instance, there are nearly 100,000 parachurch ministries operating in America. Their revenue exceeds $1.8 billion dollars per year. At times, the parachurch organizations take the muscle and youthful bodies away from the local church to go “get into the trenches” of ministry. This leaves the local church lacking in manpower to do specific ministries. Over time, the local church hands over a large portion of ministry to the parachurch organizations because it feels that they are better equipped to do the job. In essence, the tail is wagging the dog in many cases when it comes to parachurch organizations serving “alongside” the church. Over time, this pattern breeds a disconnection between the church that worships and the church that serves.
When the local radio station is doing more to connect people to discipleship and mission opportunities than the local church – it may indicated a problem exists in the listening area. The radio station isn’t a church. What does it mean to be a member of a church? It has to be far more than attending a weekly church service – right?
- Are you striving to connect with people in your church or are you perpetually disconnected?
- Are you striving to engage in Bible studies within your local church?
- Do you prepare yourself to sing with your church family?
- Do you place a high priority upon the prayer meeting of your church?
- Do you involve yourself in the missions and evangelism opportunities of your church or do you look elsewhere for such opportunities?
The church of Jesus Christ is God’s will for your life. Don’t minimize the importance of the church. You need the church and as a part of the body of Christ – the church needs you. Real important ministry must be done through the local church and that’s God’s plan to reach the world. Rather than showing up late and leaving early, remaining on the outskirts and hoping that everyone else will give their money, time, and energy to accomplish the mission and vision of the church – why not rethink your involvement in your local church today? It may not be as convenient as doing a Bible study through the radio station’s website. It may be more expensive to go on a mission trip through your local church. It may take more of your time to organize a service project through your local church. However, in the end, it’s worth it. Be sure of this one thing – God’s big plan for your life is not somehow disconnected from the local church.