The past few days we have been going through the history of the church. Learning about how the church began is such an amazing thing to study. Seeing how the apostles of Christ established the church on the earth, and how they witnessed to and practiced discipleship with the people they encountered, is so encouraging and motivating. When Jesus Christ gave the Great Commission just before He ascended into heaven He challenged all the believers to take the gospel to the world. It’s just so awesome to see the wave of evangelism that occurred shortly there after and the passion and zeal with which believers were sharing the gospel. What makes me heart leap is to see people today with the same passion and zeal for the gospel that the early church had.
Studying history is always tough for me; not just because it can be boring at some points, but because watching the failings of people, as well as the consequences that follow, can be rough. While church history is full of heroes of the faith and amazing examples of commitment, it has its fair share of people who caused spiritual and emotional damage to the body of believers. A consistent pattern that I noticed throughout it all was the lack of intentional bible study in the lives of the mass majority of believers. Of course there are chunks of history in the early church where it was not readily available, but in the years that the bible was accessible even to the common man I feel as though people just did not read it for themselves very much. Also, I feel as though there was not a great amount of accountability in and throughout church history. The body of Christ suffers when believers are not accountable to each other and when they are not saturated in the Word of God, both inside the church and outside the church. I feel this way because in my opinion so many of the problems that the church faced throughout history, specifically in theology, could have been avoided or handled better if believers were accountable in their walks. Now whether or not this was truly the case I am not sure, but one thing I do know is that time spent in the Word and accountability are crucial in the walk of a Christian and without them problems are inevitable.
The time that we have spent studying church history has greatly increased my view of the importance of plural leadership in the church. Growing up I always viewed the Pastor of my church as a kind of “President” of the church, I never really knew or heard about the need for elders. Walking through the history as well as looking at scripture has made it clear to me that the church was never intended to have ONE man lead it, but rather a group of men, with one of whom being the pastor. To be honest this setup of the leadership in the church makes much more sense, both reasonably and when one looks at the important ideals set forth by Christ and the early church leaders.
I believe wholeheartedly that God has called me into ministry. I also believe that God has gifted me with a zeal for teaching/sharing the gospel and a desire to do evangelism. My responsibility within the body of Christ is to use the gifts that God has given me to both share Christ with the world as well as to strengthen the body of believers that I am surrounded with. When looking at church history it is easy to see that it is of the utmost importance for the body of believers to work as one, to strive after the same goal and to have the same vision/mission in mind. My responsibility in the church, whatever my position may be, is centered around me always pointing people to Jesus Christ. My prayer is that I do nothing short of that.
“Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.” — William Carey