There are a myriad of ideas depicting the purpose of the local church and no shortage of discontent when an individual’s idea of that purpose is not evidenced by the local church.
Perhaps one of the most common beliefs pertaining to the church is that they should support both the community and the individuals therein. While I do not completely disagree, I do pose a question: What is support?
Today, support is most often equated with money or position, both boiling down to influence. Looking at support from a different perspective may help clarify where the church should fit within the community.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him— a threefold cord is not quickly broken."
Support comes in many different forms, and within a church body there are many different spiritual gifts and abilities. Bearing the diversity of ability that lies within the church in mind, it is ridiculous to think that the best, or only, way for the church to support the community is through finance and influence.
Two-way partnerships between both communities and individuals and the church can be forged by removing the restriction of limiting what the church and its members can do. Seeking partnership instead of seeking resources forges relationship, which is much more valuable than a single expectation.
Relationship drives individuals to unlock and release compassion and concern which can become a vital tool not only to meeting needs, but also tearing down future barriers and obstacles that are sure to arise.
As the scripture indicates, one person working toward a cause can quickly view their chore as an insurmountable task. However, two people can make the insurmountable task a task that is just big.
Likewise, building relationships with a church member or congregation could reduce the same challenge into an afterthought. Building a relationship resolves the woe that is to him who is alone and provides those who will be there to lift him up.
Support that is built upon relationship becomes the threefold cord that is not quickly broken.
Support that develops within a relationship is long-lived, does not have established business hours and digs to the root of problems instead of placing Band-Aids over deep wounds.
Support of the church may not always offer an immediate solution, but does provide a sense of immediacy in, if nothing else, presence.
Having the support of those who are willing to stand and pray with you and for you is, in this author’s opinion, much greater than standing alone while facing adversity.
Velez is pastor of Victory Assembly of God and a member of the United Ministerial Alliance.