God does some of his best work outside the four walls of the church building. There are many who are caught up in the thinking that if God has called them to do something, they have to fulfill it within the confines of a particular congregation or denomination. That may be true in some cases, but in many situations it isn’t.
However, one of the main hurdles that any believer may face is lack of recognition. They may have doubts about what God can accomplish through them, so they lack recognition of their own calling. Or others in places of power in the church may fail to recognize their calling. Paul warned us against both mentalities in 1 Corinthians 12–
13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
14 For the body is not one member, but many.
15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?
18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
19 And if they were all one member, where were the body?
20 But now are they many members, yet but one body.
21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.
If you are in Christ’s body, you are called to serve some function. All too often believers sit back and do nothing because of the first scenario in this scripture. Those who acknowledge that their calling is genuinely from God, and that they aren’t doing it to exalt themselves to get vain praise from men, are sometimes told by their congregation/denomination that “we have no need of thee” to carry out what God places on their heart, such as under the second scenario Paul talks about. Some who are told this sit back and do nothing as a result, while others fulfill the calling outside the church building. They tend to be labeled “parachurch” organizations.
Personally, I hate that label since the church is any body of believers and Jesus said “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them,” Matthew 18:20. He didn’t specify that they had to be gathered in a particular place for him to be in the midst. “Parachurch” organizations, if they are truly gathered to glorify the Lord, are actually churches and I thank God for them. They minister to college students, reach out to victims of domestic abuse, minister to those who have been trafficked, help the homeless, fatherless, and widows, etc. simply because some organized church somewhere was too fearful or unloving to fulfill what concerned the Lord.
And it’s okay to stand by yourself to fulfill God’s call if necessary. Paul started his ministry alone (Galatians 1:15-20) and that’s how God wanted it. I myself faced similar situations under the second scenario Paul mentions. Churches I attended were afraid to touch some of the tough subjects I discuss here on my blog, but I knew God wanted me to lovingly tackle them so others would be helped. That’s one reason I started this blog and I thank God for making it possible via the technology we have in our time. Neither Jesus Christ nor his ministry were confined to four walls. The way I see it, we shouldn’t be either.
Harry A. Gaylord