The congregation—the place where God is present through Word and Sacrament ministry—is where Christ comes to His people. But worship is not the only way in which God works through the local congregation.
God brings diverse people together in the local congregation. Rich and poor, young and old, white collar and blue collar, black and white are united in Christ. The kingdom of God is not segregated. Local congregations are to be the vanguard of the new creation showing the world what it looks like to be children of God.
Brothers and sisters in Christ support one another
on a local level through prayer. If someone is sick, then the local congregation straps the weight of that sickness on its own back through prayer. If someone is celebrating a great blessing, then the local congregation does a happy dance with that person through prayer.
3. Spreading the Gospel
The local congregation is where Christ is present and active among His people. That means that it is a command post for the kingdom of God. As members of the local congregation make their way out into the community, they carry the Gospel with them.
4. Mutual Consolation
The local congregation is a conduit for God’s love and care for His people. What may appear to be a tuna casserole is actually a divine token of support and consolation. What others deem a box of diapers is really the Body of Christ swaddling its fellow members in love.
God holds His people accountable on a local level through the congregation. Rogue readings of Scripture are hard to maintain in a confessing community of believers. Absence from worship and life together is noticed and addressed by the local congregation.
The local congregation is the place where Jesus dwells among us. Not the golf course. Not on social media. Jesus comes to you in the hearing of God’s Word and the receiving of the Sacraments—through your local congregation.
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Adapted from Being Lutheran, pages 238–41 © 2016 A. Trevor Sutton. Published by Concordia Publishing House.