Many times, men don’t want to consider what women have to say and that is wrong. A woman cannot teach in such a way that she is holding authority over men, but she sure can offer some words of wisdom (Proverbs 31:26). I asked the women of the Mt Airy church of Christ to write about their thoughts concerning what they see among the churches of Christ, and this article deserves a listen.
In Revelation chapters two and three, Christ assesses the seven churches of Asia, their faults, their weaknesses, and their good works. No other passage gives a clearer demonstration of the importance of church autonomy than this, for see that while one church is condemned for its actions, another church is unaffected by the bad deeds of the other. Therefore, we know that each church is to operate autonomously. In addition, 1 Timothy 3:1-10, teaches that the role of oversight of the church is given to the elders (men) of the congregations, and that women have roles of teaching other women (1 Corinthians 14:34, Titus 2:4-5). Women may teach younger children and assist in functions that the men authorize, such as maintenance of the meeting place, etc.
Without violating these scriptures let us take a look at the struggling churches in America and ask ourselves how some of us might lend some assistance. The struggling church of which I speak is a church that has limited material resources so that it is sub-standard relative to structures in its community. For instance, if that church is in a $200,000 dollar real estate area, and its meeting place costs way below that area’s average, it is meeting in sub-standard conditions. Therefore, the term substandard will vary from neighborhood to neighborhood. The outcome of operating in substandard structures is that the average person in that community will view that church’s structure as “beneath” the criteria of “successful church,” and evangelism in that neighborhood will be an uphill or near impossible challenge. In these situations, many folks will complete a Bible correspondence course but never attend services at that church.
Of course, we know that the Lord does not count a church’s success by these materialistic yardsticks, but rather on the performance of individual members within that congregation (Rev 2:9). We also know that Christians worshipped in homes, upper rooms, etc, during the persecutions. However in order to reach the lost, we cannot be blinded to the mindset of the community. Today more than ever, we have to be savvier at evangelism, or the church will not grow. So, why should we care about the plight of the struggling church? Should we only be concerned with what happens at home? As we look at some faithful churches we see a wide spectrum in the abilities in those churches. While some worship in palatial grandeur equipped with the latest state-of-the-art audio, visual, climate controls and comforts systems; others are worshiping in hole-in-the-wall structures with miss-matched seats, kerosene heating units, inefficient cooling systems, torn songbooks, barely-working toilets, located in a less-desirable area of town or in someone’s home.
Aside from the examples of churches assisting other churches in the area of evangelism and benevolence for their needy members, we know that the scriptures do not preclude individual assistance to other congregations. So, if you are able and so inclined, here’s how you can help a struggling church:
How to start you may ask? There is a website findthechurch.com that shows photos of many meeting places of faithful churches all over this country. Browse this site and get a feel for the need out there. Some churches don’t post a photo because there isn’t much to show. Next connect with the members of these congregations and assess how you might be able to help financially or by your presence for a committed period of time. People can also plan their vacation routes so they can visit new churches. This is a wonderful way to visit and boost another congregations and is similar to what the early apostles did (Acts 14:20-22).
With many of the churches in the northeast and northwestern states struggling, now is the time to reach out to your fellow struggling brethren or plan to visit or work with them for a season. Your presence alone can do much to boost the work there, and what a great way to show your Christian love!