Should be "Immersed" in Church
By Walter J. Chantry
the Lord Jesus understood His earthly mission, His church was on His
heart. “Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her”
(Ephesians 5:25). Our Savior’s ministry cannot be adequately
described without mention of His church. “From heaven He came and
sought her to be His holy bride; with His own blood He bought her, and
for her life He died” (Samuel J. Stone). Our holy Lord pledged, “I
will build My church” (Matthew 16:18) through the apostolic witness to
All missionaries should be sons from the womb of the church sent as
messengers of the church to establish and strengthen the church.
Evangelism of an individual has not been effectively completed until
he is integrated into the life of the church. Missionaries then must
be familiar with and appreciative of the worship of the church, the
fellowship of the church, the doctrine of the church, and the
government of the church.
Too many individuals and activists have had a “better idea” than the
church. With disparaging remarks about the weaknesses, failures, and
inefficiencies of the church, movements are begun “beside” the
church. Claims are made that such persons or agencies are working
“alongside” the church, stressing that their efforts are “parallel” to
and “supportive” of the church. However, that which is “alongside” is
still “outside” the church. How zealous and self-promoting are such “para”-church
organizations. Para-church works can only justify their existence by
criticism of the church. How different this is from our Lord’s
concept of missions and evangelism which builds up the church.
It is a strange phenomenon that para-church organizations, whose
reason for existence is the failure of the church and their superior
ability to carry out the tasks Christ gave to the church, cannot
continue in existence without taking men and money from the church.
Those who are saying, “We can do what you cannot,” are constantly
appealing to the church to give them their best men and support them
with gifts. In this way, those who criticize the church further sap
her strength. Even so, para-church groups find the “weak” church’s
resources sufficient to keep them from demise.
Our Savior’s concept was one of church-centered ministry and
missions. Apostles were foundation stones of the church. Our Lord
Jesus was Himself the chief cornerstone of the church (Ephesians
2:20). Although the Apostle Paul had an independent calling as
apostle to the Gentiles, it was necessary for him to experience church
life at Antioch before the Holy Spirit told that church to send him
to establish Gentile churches.
Young men preparing to serve the Lord as missionaries or gospel
ministers must immerse themselves in the life of the church.
Experience of the church’s worship, fellowship, and government are as
important as college and seminary training. Active participation in
the church should parallel all preparatory studies for serving the
Lord. Tragically, some have pursued studies in isolation from the
church, imagining that academic institutions were sufficient to make
them ready to take the gospel to others.
Strangers to the church find themselves ill-prepared to serve the
church and unlikely to be sent by the church, in desperation these may
flee to para-church organizations only to find that men cannot serve
with independent agencies unless the churches provide support.
Frustration and alienation only deepen. If a man is called of God to
preach the Word, he must never allow himself to be severed from the
body of Christ. Only with the church will he find the experience,
guidance, and support to fulfill his calling. Apart from the church
he has no calling from the Lord of the church.