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8 Advantages of the Local Church

One of the things we continually emphasize at Saddleback is that the church is God’s instrument for ministry here on Earth, and that makes it the greatest force on the face of the Earth.

The church has survived persistent abuse, horrifying persecution and widespread neglect. Yet despite its faults (due to our sinfulness), it is still God’s chosen instrument of blessing and has been for 2,000 years.

As Rick Warren thought through our missions strategy, The PEACE Plan, he noted the church has eight distinct advantages over the efforts of business and government to help those in need:

1. The church provides for the largest participation.

Most people have no idea how many Christians there are in the world: More than 2 billion people claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. That’s one third of the world’s population! The church has about a billion more people than the entire nation of China.

For example, about 100 million people in the United States went to church this past weekend. That’s more people than will attend sporting events in the U.S. throughout this year. The church is the largest force for good in the world. Nothing else even comes close.

2. The church provides for the widest distribution.

The church is everywhere in the world. There are villages that have little else, but they do have a church. You could visit millions of villages around the world that don’t have a school, a clinic, a hospital, a fire department or a post office. They don’t have any businesses. But they do have a church. The church is more widely spread—more widely distributed—than any business franchise in the world.

Consider this: The Red Cross noted that 90 percent of the meals they served to victims of Hurricane Katrina were actually cooked by Southern Baptist churches. Many churches were able to jump into action faster than the government agencies or the Red Cross.

Why? The church is literally everywhere, and Christians who could provide help to the Gulf Coast communicated with Christians in need of help so relief could be sent immediately.

3. The church provides the longest continuation.

The church has been around for 2,000 years. We’re not a fly-by-night operation. The church has a track record that spans centuries: Malicious leaders have tried to destroy it, hostile groups have persecuted it and skeptics have scoffed at it. Nevertheless, God’s church is bigger now than ever before in history.

Why? Because it’s the church that Jesus established, and it is indestructible. The Bible calls the church an unshakable kingdom. In Matthew 16, Jesus says, “I will build my church and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” All the powers of Hell—in other words, no hurricane, no earthquake, no tsunami, no famine, no pandemic, no army will ever conquer the church established by Jesus Christ.

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Tom Holladay is a teaching pastor at Saddleback Church and author of The Relationship Principles of Jesus.Tom is also co-author of Foundations, a comprehensive study for teaching the essential truths of Christian faith in a simple and systematic way. Foundations explores 11 core doctrines: The Bible, God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit, Creation, Salvation, Sanctification, Good and Evil, The Afterlife, The Church, and The Second Coming.