Bill Hybels, Pastor and visionary leader at Willow Creek Church, says that, “The local church is the hope of the world.” Why would he say something like that? Doesn’t he know the problems that exist in the local church? Doesn’t he realize that the humans that make up the church today are flawed?

The book of Acts helps us to see a time of transition for the church. We see many changes and transitions such as:  from Jesus to Apostles; from hiding to boldness; from no Spirit to indwelling Spirit; from national Israel to universal Church; from Jerusalem to the world; from Jew to Gentile; from Judaism to Christianity; from synagogues to churches.  But something we don’t see change…God’s character and His plan. He still deeply desires to reach the world with His message of reconciliation and redemption because he cares for people. The only thing that has changed is that now he will do it through the new community of faith, empowered by the Spirit.

While Acts is not a model for all churches for all time, it teaches us about the sovereign progress of the Kingdom message in spite of struggles and persecution along the way.  The Lower Story persecution only served to spread the Upper Story of redemption to other parts of the world!  The new church was founded upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  Notice how many times in Acts the resurrection is mentioned.  The resurrection changed everything!  The risen Jesus spent forty days providing infallible proof that He was alive, and teaching the disciples things about the kingdom of God (Acts 1:3).  Then He instructed them to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit who would embolden them to spread the redemption message throughout the whole world.

The local church has and will continue to have problems because humans are a part of the system. This does not mean that we should stop doing it or find some other way. Christ loved the church so much that he gave up his life for it. No matter what our feelings are towards the church or how we have been hurt by it, we need to keep in mind what Christ thought of it.

The Church (people) is God’s plan of getting to those who are outside the church today. Today the strategy must change. We can’t simply run a new program or offer some giveaway, we give them the only thing that will get at the problem; Jesus. We do this in different ways because we are all different. Each of us, as the Church, has a sphere of influence. We have friends both in the church and outside the church but that doesn’t mean we have to change who we are. We need to not be afraid to open up the conversation to spiritual matters. God is working to pursue people still today and he is working in the lives of people around you, but are you paying attention? It might be as simple as a word or action, that will provoke a question.

God is working through the Church today, whether we like it or not. The local church can and should be the hope of the world.

How can we as the Church have God’s passion for those outside the Church today? What part do you see yourself playing in God’s plan to reach?