The church is the vessel through which God brings His Kingdom to earth. With that being said, the local church has a large responsibility to its community, congregation, and to the world at large. The local church’s role is widespread. It encompasses all areas of life and all areas of the world.
What are the responsibilities of the local church? The local church is responsible to serve one another in love, equip saints for ministry, and to care for widows, orphans, and those with physical needs. Additionally, the local church worships collectively, reads and studies scripture, and protects the gospel and church from false teachers and deception. It also offers accountability, discipleship, and a community in which to confess sins and grow spiritually. Moreover, the responsibilities of the local church are to bring the Kingdom of God in a holistic manner to the believers and to the world as a whole.
The following categories are covered in this blog.
- To Equip Saints for Ministry
- Submitting to One Another
- Caring for Widows & Orphans
- Providing for Physical Needs
- Collective Worship
- Confessing Sins & Accountability
- Reading & Studying Scriptures
- Serving One Another in Love
- Protecting the Gospel
- Hindering False Teachers & Deception
- Testing the Spirits
To Equip Saints for Ministry
The local church is where believers are equipped for ministry and reaching the world. It is within these local communities that God has designated the needed giftings, encouragement, accountability, love, truth, and resources. The local church functions similarly to a family (a healthy family that is). All individuals bring something to the table that is either ready for use, or that will be developed.
Ephesians 4:11-12 expresses, “He [Jesus] gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds, and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.”
God has given various gifts to the Body of Christ. These gifts are distributed as the Spirit sees fit. Not all individuals have the same gifts. Rather, they function as a body with many members. The following Spiritual gifts, as well as practical experience, education, understanding, and wisdom, are used to equip saints for the work of spreading the gospel and Kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 12:27-31 explains, “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. All are not apostles, are they?
All are not prophets, are they? Are all teachers? All are not workers of miracles, are they? Do all have gifts of healings? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? But earnestly desire the greater gifts.”
Submitting to One Another
Believers within the local church are called to submit to one another. This command is found in Ephesians 5:19-21 which states, “[Address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Then, in 1 Corinthians 14:27-32, the command is given to provide an orderly and respectful service. Those within the local church should use their giftings but in a manner that also allows other believers to use their giftings. This brings the greatest benefit because God intended the church to work together, rather than to be self-sufficient or led by pride.
1 Corinthians 14:27-32 states, “If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.
Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.”
Caring for Widows & Orphans
Furthermore, the local church is to care for the widows and orphans within its community. James 1:27 explains, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
1 Timothy 5:3-8 gives instructions on how to do this. It states, “Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.
The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
Relatives within the church are first given the responsibility to care for the widows within their families. When there are no family members to care for them, the church steps in.
This follows a similar calling that Jesus gave Peter to care for His sheep and tend them (John 21:15-25 ). The local church is called to care for the believers within the church. The church should definitely reach beyond its walls or gatherings. However, a large responsibility in the local church is to care for those who are a part of the local church.
Providing for Physical Needs
In the same vein of thought, the local church is to provide for the physical needs of the congregation. This may include giving financial support during a time of need for a family facing unemployment, tragedy, or sickness. It can also include equipping the Body of Believers to work and hold a steady job.
James 2:14-17 paints the picture by stating, “What good is it, my brothers and sisters if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
This passage advocates that actual action is necessary to care for brothers and sisters in Christ who do not have their basic needs met. Praying for them is good, but stepping out and being the hands and feet of Jesus is also a necessity.
Furthermore, scripture commends generosity and working hard to provide for others. The apostle Paul states in Acts 20:33-35, “I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
The local church gathers for collective worship. This can follow the model of 1 Corinthians 14:26. This passage states, “What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.”
In addition, collective worship can involve other elements or manners of worship, such as prayer, proclaiming adoration to God, music, etc. To find more ways to worship, refer to the blog, 10 Types of Worship That Don’t Include Music.
The local church has fulfilled and is fulfilling what Jesus said in John 4:23-24. “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
The church is for Jews and Gentiles alike. The gospel of the Kingdom is for every nation, tribe, tongue, culture, race, and individual. Further, the local church is where believers worldwide are able to participate in God’s work.
Additionally, the local church encourages personal worship. In the letters to the Early Church, the believers were told, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). This holds true to church gatherings as well as the daily life of a believer.
Confessing Sins & Accountability
The Body of Believers provides accountability and a place to confess sins and receive healing, forgiveness, growth, and a loving community. The community works together for the good of all to help the believers overcome the sin that entangles them and weighs them down.
James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
1 John 1:9 also states, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” This confession can be done to another trusted believer, to a group of believers, or personally through prayer.
One of the greatest benefits of having a local church is that the Body of Believers forms a checks and balances of power. There is leadership in the church, but this is spread across numerous individuals. Moreover, the entire Body of Christ lives in such a way to persevere truth and to keep one another on the right path.
Galatians 6:1 proclaims, “Brothers and sisters if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”
This is brought further in James 5:19-20. “My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”
Reading & Studying Scriptures
The necessity of the word of God was made known frequently throughout the Old Testament. Psalm 119:105 expresses, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”
Then, in the New Testament, the Word became flesh. Meaning, God became flesh in the person we know to be Jesus. Hebrews 4:12 explains the power of the Word (Jesus). “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
The Early Church dedicated itself to the study of what we know to be the Old Testament. Additionally, they focused on the words of Christ, His life, death, resurrection, ascension, and the commands given to the disciples and apostles.
Colossians 3:16 commands, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Teaching and studying the Christian life was prominent in the Early Church. Today, it is the same.
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
We are blessed enough to have the scriptures and have them as a whole. For many in the Early Church, they only had oral accounts, the letters that were written to them, and the letters that were circulated to them.
Since these scriptures aren’t addressed directly to our local churches, we must follow the example seen in 2 Timothy 2:15. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
The local church must learn how to rightly divide the word of truth considering general principles, commands, culture, context, and literary context. For many churches, a hermeneutical approach to scripture would be helpful.
Scripture should be studied and applied in how it relates to the character of God, worldview, truth, the narrative of scripture, God’s unfolding plan, and His work in this world. Furthermore, scripture should be personally studied for sanctification, wisdom, direction,
The local church should be a hub for discipleship. Discipleship occurs on two levels. The first level is being discipled as a new believer, or even as an unbeliever. As that disciple grows, he or she is then able to disciple other individuals while they continue being discipled.
Ideally, all members of the local church would be in the process of discipling others and being discipled. This follows the model and command that Jesus gave His disciples before He ascended.
Notice that Jesus did not command His disciples to make converts. Rather, He commanded them to make disciples. Discipleship requires time, intentionality, and relationship. It involves the holistic development of an individual. It goes much deeper than leading an individual in a salvation prayer.
Leading individuals to salvation is wonderful, but it is best when these new converts can be discipled and connected within a local church. This is how development and further growth occur. It also protects new believers from deception, confusion, falling back into sin, and being vulnerable to the schemes of the enemy.
Matthew 28:18-20 says, “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Serving One Another in Love
The local church is called to serve one another in love. The acts of service may vary, but the overarching principle remains true. John 13:35 states “By this everyone will know that you are My disciples if you love one another.”
The sacrificial choice of love among believers is essential for the spreading of the gospel and the proclamation of the Kingdom. Hebrews 10:24-25 commands, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Moreover, intentionally giving and receiving love in the Body of Christ proves that one is of God, for God is love. The local church must first be able to love the congregation before they can make claims to love those outside of the congregation, or to even love God.
1 John 4:7-12 declares, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this, the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.”
The Importance of Love
As stated earlier, love in the local church is important to spread the gospel and to show the love of God. It is also important because scripture states that all things will pass, even spiritual gifts, but love will remain (1 Corinthians 13:8). Additionally, without love, all our works, efforts, and ministry is done in vain.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 explains, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.”
Protecting the Gospel
The local church also has the responsibility to protect the gospel. In the Early Church, there were many false teachers, deceptions, and misunderstandings of the nature of Christ, and true Christian doctrine. The apostle Paul had to regularly correct, rebuke, and encourage believers in truth.
He does this in Galatians 1:6-9 by stating, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!”
Ephesians 4:11-15: “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors, and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.”
Hindering False Teachers & Deception
Within local churches, God has established leadership to keep out wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are to stop false teachers and deception. These leaders are to shepherd and guide the flock of believers in all truth according to scripture.
Moreover, they exist to protect the Body of Christ. Within the local church, members should also be aware of possible deception. They should be on their guard, constantly seeking the Lord and His truth, so not to be led astray.
2 Peter 2:1-3 warns against false prophets. It says, “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.
Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed, these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.”
Responding to Deception
2 Timothy 4:2-5 also follows this theme and gives command on how to withstand it. “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.
Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”
Leaders in the book of Acts were also given this command in Acts 20:28-30, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.”
Testing the Spirits
The Body of Christ should also test the spirits and be aware of those who make proclamations and give teachings. Ideally, the leadership within the local church should combat dangers that exalt themselves against the truth. However, in the occasion that leadership is corrupt, the congregation should not be ignorant of the truth of scripture.
1 John 4:1-3 explains, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”
Additionally, the local church and all who are part of it should be secure in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 3:17-18 gives reason for this. “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”