In a recent Twitter thread, author, speaker, and poet Jackie Hill Perry made the following observation, “A snare I continue to see within ‘Christian Celebrity’ culture is the lack of commitment to a local church. As popularity increases, some begin to believe that their ministry to many churches is a sufficient substitute to committing to one church locally. She continued her thoughts, saying, “This is a snare for many reasons, one being the idea of serving. When you have a platform, it’s a fact that you’re elevated often and served by others consistently. Not serving within a local church context means one gets served by others more often than not.” She finished the thread, saying, “The local church is not optional for the people of God; it is essential.”
If Jackie Hill Perry could have heard me on the other side of my phone, she would have heard a resounding, “YES!” But while she was addressing Christian speakers who have a wide audience, I want to add that all ministry leaders must be committed to a local church. It’s kind of like a small town encouraging citizens to “shop local.” When the local church is healthy, the global church is healthy. While it’s important to gather and support para-church organizations, non-profit ministries, and global initiatives, as a ministry to women leader, your priority must be first to your local church. Your priority is the women in your local community. Need more convincing? Here are four reasons you should “lead and love local” when answering God’s call to shepherd women.
First, the local church is biblical. In the New Testament, Paul started new churches, invested in them, checked on them, and sometimes chastised them. The local church may be small or it may be large, but there is biblical value in the effectiveness and outreach of local church ministry. It is the balance of gathering and scattering. The local church gathers for prayer, for worship, and for discipleship. From that, the local church scatters to reach their community and to live on mission with God.
Second, the local church provides accountability. Not only do Bible teachers and speakers need accountability, but we all need it. I need the local body of believers to challenge me and to correct me. I need them to watch that my walk matches my talk.
Third, the local church provides opportunities to serve, give, and go. I love the heart behind giving to lots of worthy organizations, but my first and most significant giving happens through my local church. It supports the ongoing ministry needs and is a channel for my stewardship. Just as my local establishments like me to support them financially, it’s vital that my giving to the Lord is primarily to my local church. And when my local church cooperates with others in global mission efforts, my local giving becomes global giving.
My local church also gives me opportunities to serve. I can serve out of my giftedness, my experience, and my passions. Whether that’s teaching a Bible study or making a meal for our homeless ministry, my local church provides ways for me to serve through God’s calling on my life.
Finally, the local church provides an avenue of mentoring and connecting the generations. When my husband and I were praying about which church to join after moving to a new city, we knew we wanted to connect with people of all ages and stages of life. As we sat through the new member’s class, one young woman described how she wanted someone to disciple her. It was all I could do to sit in that seat and not scream, “I will!” Last week my husband and I served at our Easter celebration for families. Even though we have young adult children, we want to get to know families of all ages in our church and connect with them. We have learned that our church family is our family in many ways. And families include all generations.
As a side note, I mentioned Jackie Hill Perry’s tweets in the first part of this article. I’m excited that she is one of our keynote speakers at this year’s Women’s Leadership Forum. You won’t want to miss hearing her at the Forum or at a LifeWay Women’s Abundance event in Richmond and Portland. Check it out and bring your “local” group!
Kelly King is the Women’s Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources and oversees the YOU Lead events. Join her this year and get to know her heart for ministry leaders. Follow her on Twitter @kellydking.