The role of the local church in American society often seems invisible in the larger scheme of world missions. A person may be led to address the apparent dilemma: do I “join” a church where I live or do I go and live as a missionary, as if the two are somehow on completely different planes. This lack of clear connection can lead some to question the importance of the local church and especially the need for sound, biblical ministry in places where the gospel has already been proclaimed. In other words, if the Great Commission is so important (and it is) then why focus any on churches in places like Lexington, Kentucky. Here is one aspect among others:

The foundation for taking the message of Jesus to the ends of the world is rooted in, at the local level, people growing in the gospel, and this growth should be taking place through local church congregations. When local churches flourish in the truth of the gospel, men and women respond by going to other places as missionaries. When local churches flounder because of the lack of biblical, gospel-proclaiming teaching, then the basis for missions is lost. In other words, where the gospel is being most faithfully taught, missions will be one of the chief ways that people will respond. Where the gospel is watered-down or absent, there can be no actually basis for missionary endeavors.

Pastor and author John Piper similarly explains the matter this way in his book, Let the Nations Be Glad: “God is calling us above all else to be the kind of people whose theme and passion is the supremacy of God in all of life. No one will be able to rise to the magnificence of the missionary cause who does not feel the magnificence of Christ. There will be no big world vision without a big God. There will be no passion to draw others into our worship where there is no passion for worship.”

As Christians we should always be asking the question of how we may serve God, but let us not place that question at the forefront. At the forefront should be our worship of God for all that he is and all that he has done. As to whether we “stay or go” for the gospel of Jesus the Messiah, God will work out those details according to his purposes as his people pursue his glory with the passion and affections that flow out of knowing redemption in Christ and worshiping him who alone is worthy of worship.