Learn to Discern

Is the Local Church the Greatest Hope for our World?


Church:  the greatest hope for our world?




He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Ephesians 4:16


Praise the Lord!

I will thank the Lord with all my heart
    as I meet with his godly people.

Psalms 111:1


 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.  

Ephesians 1:22-23


I checked my Twitter feed in the parking lot at school right before coming home and stewed about this tweet on the 20+ minute drive home:



My brain went all over the place with this and I wondered about you. What do you think of this statement?  Notice it doesn’t define church as a building.  So, with that in mind . . .





photo credit: Thursday Night Bible Study via photopin (license)

47 thoughts on “Is the Local Church the Greatest Hope for our World?”

  1. I have no idea who this guy is other than I see he is from Whacko, TX. Not that I have a thing against Texas, I was born there, but I haven’t seen much in the way of good publicity about Waco over the years. It seems to have a high volume of whacko’s in the vicinity.

    As far as the statement goes, I disagree. I have nothing against the local church. None are perfect, but felt emptiness and lonliness before I got involved with a church body. Making Christian friends, prayer and accountability partners is a huge help for me in my walk with Christ. That being said, I do disagree with the statement. The only hope for this world is Christ, turning back to God and staying on that path. The local church can only do so much. It cannot change the world all on its own no matter how much the desire is to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The greatest hope for man kind is to have access to the ‘holy bible’ each individual can freely read the words in red and be set free from sin……. membership at a church is not necessary to read the ‘holy bible’

    Some great things are actually a local church, so long as deceptions and molesters are not able to access the young children.


  3. “For God so loved the world that He gave us “the local church,” that whoever believes in It should not perish but have everlasting life.”

    Said no bible ever.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. ‘My hope is built on nothing less
    Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
    I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
    But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
    On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
    All other ground is sinking sand’. (Edward Mote)
    I think the last line of this old hymn says it all: ‘All other ground is sinking sand’.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Matthew 12:21 says: ‘And his name will be the hope of all the world’. I wonder why Preston Yancey would even turn this over in his mind, this is ‘sooo’ not Scriptural. I replied to his Twitter post.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’ve heard this exact statement made before by Reformed Evangelical leaders. What they mean is not the “ekklesia” but the local 501c3 or local official registered Church Inc. (business), with the clergy/laity differentiation, statement of faith, Church rules, customs and traditions, bank account, budget & programs, and expectation to “submit” to leadership etc etc. There are Church members and leaders who actually believe this, that “The Church” (institution) is the hope of the world. This attitude grates on me and is reason 347 why I am out, and now a “Done”.

    Granted, what they are trying to convey with this statement is, that, the people of the Church (the members you could say) are the ones conveying the gospel message, so that is why “it” (the local Church is an “It”) is the hope of the world. But the hope of the world is not an it, but a HE. It is not the messengers, or the institutions the messengers may or may not submit or belong to, but the person of Jesus Christ, who is the hope and savior of the world. What those who are promoting that little message are doing, is making themselves something, making themselves great, pointing people to The Church, rather than to Christ. Much ado about themselves. Like the t-shirt, “I love my Church!”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s actually much worse than this in some circles… with some ‘Roman Baptist Church’ preachers teaching that Church is the mediator, and is absolutely required for salvation. Hellfire and doom for those who do not submit to The Church.
    If you scroll down on this blog post, you will see a video by I’ll be Honest, in which the preacher warns that being part of the local Church is basically required for salvation. Scary threats and all.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. In my experience, those who love to emphasize the role of the local church are the ones whose pocket books begin to swell when people actually donate to the mission of the “local church”. Their rhetoric, roughly translated, is, “Bring your money here! HERE! Wouldn’t want those *other* churches having the money that GOD blessed you with, now would we?? …and why did GOD bless you in the first place? Because you brought your money HERE, of course! So bring your money here!!!”

    They like to bring up the story of Ananias and Sapphira, pointing out eerily how this couple was actually killed because they didn’t give enough money to the local church. What they fail to mention is that there is no “local church” mentioned, only a fellowship of believers who met in many places and all led each other. They also fail to mention that the point of the story was not the fact that Ananias and Sapphira weren’t supporting the “local church”, it was that they LIED about giving, in order to inflate their public image.

    The term “local church” has always confused me, anyways–what else is there? I don’t hear about people booking flights cross-country to attend church every week.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I think that church means the body of believers (universal) loving God and loving others. If the church follows the “greatest commandments,” then, yes, the church can be the greatest hope for the world. That being said, I don’t necessarily think that the “local” church is the “greatest hope.” The key difference is the word “local.”

    Liked by 1 person

  10. So what is meant by the word ‘hope’ in this Tweet. It cannot mean the hope of Salvation because this can only be found in the name of Jesus. If he means the hope of the world is to have a better world to live in, the statement maybe correct.


  11. rhondajeannie – I see where you’re coming from. Yes, only Jesus can give us the hope that we need. But how is Jesus revealed to people? There are many ways, but I do think that one way is through those who follow loving God and loving others.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Kathi I gather this tweet does not mean ‘the hope of Salvation’ but that the world needs to hear the ‘Good News’ and the hope that one day this will happen because of the witness of the local church.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I wasn’t exactly sure if he was saying he believed the statement but that he was “turning it over” . Hopefully he is trying to decide if it’s true or not. But I don’t know his thoughts on that issue. He could believe it for all I know.


  14. He’s studying to be an Anglican priest. Why wouldn’t he mean local church=building of believers? He further elaborates on the tweet:

    Preston Yancey ‏ 16h16 hours ago
    I know a lot of us will want to rush to nuance that—BUT JESUS—and I don’t disagree, but the local church, an actual gathering of beliers,

    Preston Yancey ‏ 16h16 hours ago
    gathered to worship, be instructed in the faith, seek the lost of their communities … these are things we cannot forsake.


  15. I don’t think he means this in a salvation sense, at least I hope he’s not. But even in the sense of hope as in improving the world or improving the world’s ability to see Christ manifest in his people, this still veers close to post millennialism – the idea that things will keep getting better and better until the world is good enough for Jesus to return in his second coming.

    That’s a doctrine that was quite popular in the 19th Century based on how the world was operating at the time. Then WW1 came along and blew the post mil world view out of the water. Some people still think it can happen, though, despite the doctrine having no relation to Scripture. I hope this is not what he meant in his original tweet.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. “What if “church” to some means being the hands and feet of Jesus – loving people with the love He has given them? Then is the church the greatest hope for the world?”

    Sounds nice. That’s the way I always fantasized it would work. But, then there’d be no need for spiritual abuse ministries or blogs. Boz Tchividjian could retire.

    Jesus didn’t fail me. Some “Christians” on the other hand . . .
    I will never make an idol out of “church” ever again.

    Liked by 4 people

  17. Diane Quotes Yancy as saying “I know a lot of us will want to rush to nuance that—BUT JESUS…”

    So Jesus has been relegated to the status of nuance, at least vis a vis what has often become an idol, the local church (sometimes disingenuously called the local New Testament church)?

    Liked by 1 person

  18. @BTDT:

    Sounds like “the local church” is now supplanting Jesus. This is exactly the way cults view it.

    I understand there’s actually one cultic group who actually named themselves “The Local Church” in order to appropriate ALL the mentions of “local church” and apply them to mean themselves and ONLY themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. @Tim:

    That’s a doctrine that was quite popular in the 19th Century based on how the world was operating at the time.

    “The Victorians thought history ended well — because it ended with the Victorians.”
    — G.K.Chesterton (a Victorian himself)

    Then WW1 came along and blew the post mil world view out of the water.

    And everyone one-eightied from Optimistic Post-Mil to Pessimistic Pre-Trib Pre-Mil, from Getting Better & Better to It’s All Gonna Burn (any minute now).

    Communism begets Objectivism.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. BTDT, pretend I lived by you, and let’s say you and I both saw a mom who was being abused by her husband. You and I reached out to her, we welcomed her with open arms, we believed her story, encouraged her, prayed with her, we helped her in practical ways, we loved on her children. Your family and my family helped her to move her family and belongings into a safe house, we helped her find an attorney, etc

    In the above scenario, were you and I the church? And did we not help our world in the process?


  21. @Loretta:

    It’s actually much worse than this in some circles… with some ‘Roman Baptist Church’ preachers teaching that Church is the mediator, and is absolutely required for salvation. Hellfire and doom for those who do not submit to The Church.

    “Preachers” or “Mini-Popes”?
    Each of a DIFFERENT “The Church”.
    “Hellfire and doom” Dogma Ex Cathedra from each and every one against ALL the others (and their Mini-Popes) as Heretics and Apostates.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I am sad that so many have horrible experiences in churches. Of course Christ is our only hope of salvation. Also keep in mind that Christ said, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock Il will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” Matthew 16:18 The church is important. And by that I mean both the invisible and visible church. Of course those in church leadership should treat people in a Christ-like manner. I pray that would happen in all churches.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I would agree with the statement “The greatest hope for our world is Jesus.” But what exactly does that mean? What does a world that looks to Jesus first look like? Unfortunately, there’s no universal agreement on these questions even within the same denomination or church.

    For me, one example of someone that looks to Jesus would do things like what Julie Anne described above in her comment to BTDT. But someone else who claims to be looking to Jesus would argue that this abused woman should go back to her husband and try to be a better wife (and this blog has been down that road many times…).

    So when I hear someone say “the world needs Jesus” (or some variant thereof), I find myself questioning what exactly that looks like for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. “In the above scenario, were you and I the church? And did we not help our world in the process?”

    I understand where you’re coming from. But, no, I wouldn’t go so far as to call us “the church.” Unbelievers can and do help people in practical ways such as this too. I might say we were moved by love, compassion, and other attributes that are supposed to be fruits of the Spirit. I would say that we were behaving the way Christians ought to behave.

    Yes, we do help our world in the process of expressing love. Unbelievers do the same. What exactly defines that as “church?”

    (By the way, my former cult often orchestrated such kind of “help” for some in need, but it always came with strings attached. Even those “helping” were sometimes doing so because they were told to. Such scenarios are a little triggering to me, and I’m more likely to have a jaded view of such “help.” This is just my opinion shaped by my experiences.)

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Folks, right now a self-professed “Christ-like” person is wreaking havoc in my family’s life, while a non-Christian is providing support and work. This may or may not affect my views on this topic.

    Liked by 3 people

  26. Do we need to be part of a local church in order to advance the kingdom of God (make disciples)? I say no. If you are Christian, being part of a fellowship of believers is separate from going about spreading the good news that Jesus paid for our sins.

    I can see where his tweet about hope for the world could have something to do with salvation.Yancey is studying to be a priest in the ACNA. I would guess he would have to believe their canons and doctrines, etc. From their Constitution and Canons:

    “Canon 6 Of Congregations
    Section 1 – Concerning Congregational Mission
    The fundamental agency of the mission of the Church to extend the Kingdom of God is the local congregation. The chief agents of this mission are the people of God.”

    Fundamental (foundation, basis, essential part of) agency (source, power, way something is achieved) is the local congregation? God makes Christians (extending the kingdom of God) through the local church by way of the “people of God” aka members of local church…and there will be no extending the kingdom without it?


  27. I hear you, BTDT. I think we all come to conclusions about what church is and isn’t based on our experiences. And many time our negative experiences make it a challenge to even want to think about what real church means. Could there be any positive thing about church – – if people are healthy? That’s why I posted this.


  28. To Yancey’s defence, he did not say he believe it. He said:

    ” “The greatest hope for our world is the local church.”
    Heard that in a meeting this morning and have been turning it over ever since.”

    He was thinking about the statement.

    Liked by 1 person

  29. So when I hear someone say “the world needs Jesus” (or some variant thereof), I find myself questioning what exactly that looks like for them.

    So, if you find someone who looks at church the way you do – – does that equal a church?

    I’m thinking of a friend I know who has ditched traditional church and meets with women of different dominational backgrounds for a Bible study. When they see a need in the community, their love for Christ compels them to do something to help meet that need. They are not tithing to a local church, so this means this group of a dozen or so is able to meet some real needs in the community that requires $$. Would you consider this group to be a type of “church?” I think I would.

    I guess what I’m trying to get at is this: I get the reluctance to ever do traditional church again. I get the reluctance to ever have anyone “over” us. But how do we as Christians “do” church? What does it look like? And can we meet some important needs in the world around us?

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Isn’t there a verse about “Whenever two or more gather together in my name, I am with them”? It seems like that’s the simplest definition.

    And why the “local” church anyways? Isn’t the definition of “church” the whole body of believers? “Local church” strikes me as a bit of an oxymoron. Why would a local body be THE worldwide hope?

    (Unless, of course, by “our world” he means his personal microcosm– in which case his local church might be his greatest hope. If you’re going to argue, always define terms!)

    Liked by 1 person

  31. One reason for using the phrase local church is because Paul wrote of “the church meeting in so-and-so’s house” as well as of the church universal.


  32. JA, we personally were far more blessed by one family than by most of the institutionalized “churches” that we have been a part of. They are more like our church than the people who crowd into the same building as us on Sundays. Ironically enough, they don’t go to a Sunday service at all, though they are well within the boundaries of orthodoxy.


  33. “So, if you find someone who looks at church the way you do – – does that equal a church?


    I guess what I’m trying to get at is this: I get the reluctance to ever do traditional church again. I get the reluctance to ever have anyone “over” us. But how do we as Christians “do” church? What does it look like? And can we meet some important needs in the world around us?”

    Good questions. I’ll have to think about a more thorough response, but for me, I think what it means to “do church”/”be Jesus”/etc. is following the greatest commandments: love God, love your neighbor. What that looks like in practice will vary depending on the situation (the situation you described that I left out of the quote above I would also consider a church).


  34. Tim,
    True, but the tweet was (presumably!) referring to the entire planet, in which case the church in a place which is local to the speaker is going to be insufficient.

    I don’t really have a problem with the term itself, I just don’t know how it is being used at the moment. It seems like it’s a self-contradiction.

    Also, I just enjoy the structuring of an argument; I’m really just nit-picking for the fun of it. You should see how mad church people get when I start poking holes in their arguments. Sometimes I argue with people I agree with, just to help them congeal their train of thought. It seems more helpful (to me) to help people know why they believe what they believe, rather than just patting them on the back for having the “right” opinions.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. I’m hearing the term “local church” recently too and starting to wonder why. I don’t know what people mean by it, but it may be coming from Mark Dever.

    Groups who followed Witness Lee also called themselves “Local Church” but I can’t see how there’s any connection to the current use, whatever it means.


  36. I don’t think this guy is connected with Mark Dever, but I think you are right, Ted. Dever definitely refers to the local church (and pastors having control of the local church). Welcome to the blog and discussion. 😄


  37. Julie Anne asks: “But how do we as Christians “do” church? What does it look like? And can we meet some important needs in the world around us?”

    Well, church happens day after day, right here on this blog.

    As to the definition of “local church,” a term I do not recall having seen in Scripture, I submit that the Internet has made the entire earth local. I also submit that what happens right here, and on other blogs, is more nearly church than when people gather in so-called satellite churches and watch video projections of some geologically distant preacher preaching sermons.

    In fact, I would go so far as to say that what most people call going to church isn’t church at all. Church isn’t church unless it is participatory and interactive. See 1 Cor 14:26 and following.

    Liked by 2 people

  38. Julie Anne asks: “But how do we as Christians “do” church? What does it look like? And can we meet some important needs in the world around us?”

    I can’t speak as to how we as Christians should do church.

    I will answer how I “do church”…
    What it looks like for me, now that I no longer go to church (or a building)

    I swear, (not with dirty words ; ) I have more church today outside of a denomination than I did when I was on the inside the 25 some years I attended.

    IMHO a whole lot of church has happened for me on this blog. I have been moved to compassion & prayer for others here, because of the raw honesty and the deep felt connection to what others are sharing. SSB has been a place to listen to others & to be heard.

    I have a few friends who I meet up with for a meal who are believers & we have church! I have a ton of new friends that reject Christianity because of the bad PR that some Christians have brought about by their behavior & I have had church with them.

    The theme that seems to sum up what transpires between us when I get together with others is the sharing of our stories: Story-glue, it bonds us together, regardless if I gather with believers or my atheist buddies. I no longer have any agenda to convert or change anyone, that is God’s work. I don’t hide that I am a believer, and I cling to the hope that my actions towards others speak much louder than my words.

    I spent so many years inside of the bubble with all those Christian like minded folks, or as some have named it: The Christian ghetto, that getting outside of those walls, and dialoging with others who I was taught were the enemies of Christ… Catholics, liberals, gays, & on & on has only opened my heart to the beauty of our flawed & messy humanity. I do believe that we can make a difference, one person at a time, helping, blessing, praying, loving, listening, sharing outside of a church.

    Liked by 1 person

  39. The Ephesians text you posted is helpful. Jesus thinks very highly of the church. The church is his body, and as much as our individualistic worldview likes to think in terms of “just me n Jesus!” there’s a real and biblical sense in which Jesus died not just for individuals but “the church.” (See Acts 20:28 “church of God which He bought with His own blood.”)
    Furthermore, as much as the church is admittedly a mess, Jesus promises in Eph 5:27 “to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” So until Jesus gives up on the church, we had better not either. He has promised to work in, on, and through it.
    Is the church the worlds “only” hope? Yes and no… Obviously Jesus is the only hope. But so is oxygen. Without either the world as we know it ceases to exist. The church is a critical element in the plan of Jesus – it’s the only institution He set in place – and does His plan of spreading the gospel take place without it’s ministry of evangelism, training, and planting more churches? Probably not. It’s the means Jesus has chosen to use to accomplish certain ends, especially the spread of the gospel. So if the gospel is the hope, the church is a vital part of that. Hope that makes some sense 🙂


  40. Joe Reed, when you and others say the church is the only institution He set in place, what is your scripture? If you or somebody else can show this to me in Scripture I have some repentin’ to do. Until then, I contend that the Greek word we translate church, ekklesia, simply refers to an assembly or congregation of those who are His.

    Indeed, I would say that gm370 aka Gail (Hi Gail!), 3/18/15 @ 6:28 PM, comes much closer to understanding what church is than any idea that views church as an institution or organization. It might be complained that Gail appears to include unbelievers, but who is to say? Jesus Himself warns us that many who think they are sheep will be surprised to find themselves called goats, and that many who will be called sheep will be similarly surprised.

    Church is one of those words like faith, salvation, pastor, eternity, and gospel that has come to have a meaning that is deceptively different than the sense conveyed by its scriptural counterpart. It is one of those words on which men have retroactively imposed a non-Scriptural concept. It would be better if we could somehow permit Scripture to impose its own meaning on our understanding.

    I will concede that church can happen within an organizational context, and I am happy for those who can still find church in such places. Yet much confusion would be avoided if we ceased calling organizations and institutions church.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Had Jesus intended his church to be an organized institution, he would have called it a synagogue (synagogen), meaning a gathered assembly, or a building at which an assembly gathers. Strongs 4864. Instead, He used the word ekklesia, meaning called out ones. Strongs 1577.

    Where the emphasis is on gathering (dare I say “binding”?) together (as with the traditional concept of church), as opposed to being called out, it begins to look a good deal like the time when people had gathered together to build a city and a tower and a name for themselves. If anybody contends that the spirit of Babel does not describe or apply to organized, institutional “church,” then they will need to explain why organized churches are largely defined by an ever accelerating crescendo of division. A tree is known by its fruit.

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Hi Gary W!

    Real quick, on the go today. As you are well aware, we can’t put the Holy Spirit on a leash! Complainers are going to complain.


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