A participant in an email group asked last night what to do when there isn’t a faithful congregation nearby.
I replied, “Start one.”
But how does a single Christian do that?
It’s called evangelism. Win one, then two win more, and you have yourself a congregation.
To that the person replied that I made it sound easy.
It seemed to work pretty well in the first century. The saints went everywhere preaching the word (what we call evangelism). They spoke to all. Some listened, others obeyed. Those who obeyed formed communities of disciples. They met together, almost without exception in homes, following the simple pattern given them by the Lord and which we now have preserved in the New Testament.
Some items were and are required for assembly: (1) unleavened bread; (2) fruit of the vine; (3) some sort of recipient for the treasury; (4) one copy of Scriptures. Most people are able to provide these, or they may be distributed among a group to bring on a given Sunday.
Other possible items to help in the meetings may include these: (1) hymnals; (2) chairs; (3) prayer mats; (4) lighting.
From start to finish, it is simple, but not always easy. Comes persecution, opposition, temptation, trials, challenges, travel, evenings spent teaching in stinky little living rooms and around cramped kitchen tables.
Who is adequate for such things? (2 Cor. 3:5-6).
Actually, we have ministries whose task is to start or to encourage established churches to start other churches. What do we need all that for? In the first century, churches didn’t start because a congregation thought there was a new church needed in an town or area. In the New Testament people just went everywhere preaching, where they traveled, where they lived, and lo and behold! communities of disciples sprung up.
That we have to start up ministries and fund efforts to start a church should tell us how far the church as a whole has gotten from its mission of every saint participating in evangelizing the lost.
Our whole vision is warped on this question, and we need to repent.