The church is both local and global. Nothing could be more local than the church in the house of Priscilla and Aquila (Rom. 16:3, 5) or the church in the house of Nympha (Col. 4:15). At the same time, the apostle Paul refers to the church in Macedonia, a large region in the north of Greece, as one entity (2 Cor. 8:5), even though it consisted of multiple churches (Acts 16-17). Both dimensions, local and global, of the church are part of God’s design for His people.
At present, many local churches have been and remain closed because of the pandemic. The ability of local churches to continue to teach, preach, evangelize, and nurture existing membership in the absence of normal modes of church life has been tested. Could a regional or global church substitute itself for the local church and minister effectively to members? The technology available enables us to reach anyone anywhere, and at a minimum cost! Is this not good stewardship? Furthermore, this emerging configuration aligns well with our inclination to individualism and aversion to accountability and commitment. What is God’s purpose for the local church in our generation?
Interestingly, the Bible speaks about the irreplaceable function of the local church and of its continuing relevance. The evangelist Luke declares that those who were saved were added to the church, and he highlights the togetherness of this first community of believers (Acts 2:42-47). The apostle Paul describes the function of the church as providing a space for mutual encouragement and support, love, and good deeds, essential for the time of the end (Heb. 10:24, 25; Gal. 6:2). The global or regional church can assist in attending these needs, but the local church remains the platform par excellence for them to be satisfactorily addressed.
In this issue of the Dynamic Steward we recognize the continuing importance of the local church and the necessity of stewardship education initiated at this level. Several articles elaborate on how stewardship educators are to equip God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (Eph. 4:12). The main article is a reproduction of the chapter “Education by Ministers and Church Officers” from the book Counsels on Stewardship. It refreshes our mind about the responsibility of building up faithful stewards within the local church setting. Another article, by a group of stewardship educators, clarifies the role of the local church stewardship director. Julian Archer proposes an outline of a stewardship sermon that can be useful for the next time that you must address a congregation. For renewed inspiration and faith, the story of Valère Marouvin, who has served his local church as stewardship director since 1976, is a recommended piece.
As Jesus continues to build up His church, let us join Him as cobuilders.
Aniel Barbe, Editor