Your Church and You
By Fred Kinzie, Robert Henson, and Wayne Mitchell
What is the church? Often the term church is used to refer to a particular building or organization, but these are not really the church.
The church is a body of baptized believers, molded and welded together through the Spirit of God. “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together growth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:1l9-22). According to I Corinthians 6:19-20, we become the temple of the Holy Ghost when we are filled with the Spirit of God. We are then blended spiritually with those of the local congregation where we worship, thus composing an effective unit to do the work of the kingdom of God in our locale.
We must always remember, however, that our local assembly is not the total church. Our local assembly joins with hundreds of other assemblies of like precious faith to make a globe-girdling church. The church is the worldwide body of people who have been baptized in Jesus’ name, have received the Holy Spirit, and are living holy and godly lives. The church also includes people who have already gone by the way of the grave and waiting for the soon return of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Respect for Leadership
Let us consider your personal involvement in the local church. One element of prime importance, if you are to work in harmony with the local congregation, is a deep respect for leadership. The most important of all your leaders will be your pastor. According to the Word of God, you owe him your honor, loyalty, and obedience. He is the shepherd of your soul. The Bible instructs, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17). The quickest way to bring spiritual failure to your life is to rebel against the person whom God has placed over you as pastor.
Under the pastor of the church, there will be other leaders in varying positions with different degrees of responsibility. If you are sincere about your walk with God, you will do everything in your power to work in harmony with each of them. In all your relationships, however, it is wise to remember that the pastor is the final spiritual authority under God in the local church.
From time to time, your church will be blessed with the ministry of visiting ministers, including evangelists, Bible teachers, and organizational leaders. You owe these people of God the honor and respect of which their office and work are worthy. They cannot fill the role of your pastor, however. He is the one to whom you should go for spiritual advice and counsel. Your pastor is the most important person in your relationship with God. Honor, love, and trust him in all matters.
You have some responsibilities to God and to your local church. The first of these is faithfulness in church attendance. This is of vital importance according to Hebrews 10:25: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.” You can never hope to have total victory in your Christian walk and be ready for the second coming of Christ if you are not faithful in church attendance.
At the beginning, you make habits; in the end, habits make you. By refusing to allow anything to hinder your church attendance at the outset of your Christian walk, faithfulness will tend to characterize your entire walk with God. You will become one of “the faithful,” and you will know the joy of being used of God. Growth in grace and knowledge will be yours. Church attendance is a must!
Tithes and Offerings
Another responsibility and great privilege is giving to the cause of God. God loves a cheerful giver (II Corinthians 9:7). Your giving of finances to the kingdom of God will fall into two categories. The first of these is tithing. Tithing is not a plan instituted by humans, but rather by Almighty God. The word tithe means one tenth. Tithing, consequently, is the giving of the first tenth of your income to the Lord.
Malachi 3:8-10 teaches: “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” God’s command is, “Bring ye all the tithes,” and He accuses these who fail to do so of robbing God.
You are to give your tithing into your local church. It is not to be sent across the country or to be used for other charitable donations. According to the Scriptures, the first purpose of tithing is the support of the ministry.
Tithing is a commandment with great promise. The Lord said He would open the windows of heaven and pour out such a blessing that there would not be room enough to receive it.
The second classification of financial giving is offerings. There is no set amount for offerings. They are strictly free will and voluntary. However, the Lord promises that the more liberal we are with Him the more we shall be blessed in return. We should not try to get by on giving as little as possible but rather should endeavor to give as much as possible to the cause of the Lord Jesus. If we really love God and His cause, we will not find it difficult to give, and give generously, to His work.
Another very important responsibility is personal witnessing. Jesus instructed His disciples concerning this vital Christian function just prior to His ascension into heaven. “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Your spiritual life will become stagnant and eventually shrivel and die if you do not cultivate the art of witnessing. But if you cultivate that art, your life will take on new meaning. You will see lives changed, souls saved, the sick healed, and miracles happen. Your personal witness is powerful. No one else can give it for you. It is yours; it is personal.
You Need the Church
Never be guilty of thinking that you can be saved without the church. The fellowship, friendship, encouragement, and testimonies of fellow saints do much to strengthen your own spiritual walk with God. You will quickly learn that we really need each other. None of us is self-sufficient. The saints in the church will be your greatest friends on this earth.
There are other elements of great value in the church that make it essential to our spiritual success. The worship serves to lift and strengthen the child of God. The preached and taught Word of God during the services becomes our food and source of encouragement and faith. The work of the ministry is a most vital link in God’s overall plan of salvation. Yes, my friend, you need the church!
Involvement with the District and International Church
Your local church is involved with district programs as well as the work of God in your own city. These include activities such as rallies, youth camps, camp meetings, and conferences, where saints and ministers of many local assemblies gather to worship and to gain an increased vision and burden for the work of the Lord.
Local churches are encouraged to be involved with other assemblies of like precious faith, not only on a district level but also nationally and worldwide. For this purpose, we have an organization called the United Pentecostal Church International. It was formed by a merger of two organizations in 1945. Its current headquarters, known as World Evangelism Center, is located in the St. Louis area at 8855 Dunn Road, Hazelwood, Missouri.
Each year the United Pentecostal Church International holds an annual general conference, convening in various cities. Saints and ministers from all over America, Canada, and around the world come to worship together and to share visions and burdens with each other. It is a great time of fellowship and spiritual feasting.
The United Pentecostal Church International has organized its ministries under several divisions. These include Church Administration, Editorial, Education, Foreign Missions, Harvestime (radio ministry), Home Missions, Pentecostal Publishing House, Women’s, Sunday School, and Youth.
The Foreign Missions Division raises finances to support missionaries around the world through Faith Promise (personal faith commitments) and distributes the money through Partners in Missions (monthly pledges to particular missionaries). The Home Missions Division starts churches in cities of the United States and Canada where there is no lighthouse of truth, and its fundraising effort is called Christmas for Christ. The Youth Division conducts many forms of youth ministry. Its financial drive, known as Sheaves for Christ, not only sponsors youth projects but also buys vehicles for our missionaries. The Women’s Division receives a Mother’s Memorial offering each year. Among other things, it supports foreign Bible school students and purchases appliances for our missionaries. The Sunday School Division, using its Save Our Children offering, sponsors ministries for children and helps pay for the education of our missionary children.
There are many other projects that space will not permit us to mention. The goal behind each of them is the conquest of unreached territory and the winning of lost souls for the kingdom of God. The work of God on this earth is no small task. It demands a worldwide effort.
Each church cannot do a tremendous amount in all these areas by itself, but when many assemblies join together their efforts become very effective. This is why your local church is involved with district and national programs.
Your Secret for Success
There is a secret to successful Christian living. That secret is total involvement in everything possible within the framework of the local church. Exhaust every possible avenue of doing something for God and working in His kingdom, and your new life will continue to be filled with victory, excitement and great joy!
This article “Your Church and You” by Fred Kinzie, Robert Henson, and Wayne Mitchell is excerpted from their book Victorious Living For New Christians, 1980.