I responded to an email asking about Bible preaching and why the preacher was lacking success, and worse, feeling unfulfilled. Here’s what I wrote:
Our approach to changing things has been to start small. Jesus didn’t begin a political movement to change the cultural momentum in Israel. He didn’t even try to get the Romans thrown out. He simply gathered twelve disciples around him–and a few women–and kept them with him as he preached.
He made a big impact in his country, but he didn’t change the country much by himself. His apostles, on the other hand, changed the whole world.
We would include Jesus’ 30 years as a quiet citizen of Nazareth as part of his ministry. We like to say that Jesus spent 30 years preparing to minister for 3.
The Scriptures say, “Don’t despise the day of small things.”
The Power of the Church
There is a power to the church–the gathered people of God–that will never be found in an individual ministry. Protestants have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. They escaped Rome, but they lost an understanding of the Church and the promises tied to it.
To us, it begins with two. The supply, according to Ephesians 4:16 and Colossians 2:19, comes from the joints and ligaments. In other words, it comes from the joining of the saints. It’s nourishment.
That’s why so many ministers, like yourself, feel unfulfilled. You’re not being properly nourished because you can’t get properly joined, and nourishment comes from the joining.
Keep your eyes open for whom you can join with; whose heart you can be tied to in the same way that the Father and Son’s hearts are joined. Feed each other, and thus give people something they can come into. Bible preaching is good, but in the apostolic churches there was something for those who heard the preaching to come into. “The Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
Remember what happened with Paul? He was knocked off his horse on the way to Damascus. There he was, on the road, communing with Jesus. Jesus was speaking to him personally, and Paul could see him.
Nonetheless, Jesus wanted him to be joined to something. He didn’t save Paul there on the road. He sent him to Damascus to be healed of his blindness and to have his sins washed away by Ananias (Acts 22:16).
Maybe that’s why Paul understood and emphasized the church so strongly.