Updated: Nov 21, 2019
This is worthy of expansion; but, here’s the brief outline. Ten reasons why the local church is central in missions:
Those who were given the Great Commission directly, the Apostles, their contemporaries, and their helpers, fulfilled the mandate by planting and organizing indigenous churches (see all the book of Acts!). They understood the fruit of obedience to the Great Commission resulted in the establishment of new local churches everywhere.
The Great Commission, as expressed in Matthew 28:16-20, cannot be fulfilled apart from a mutually committed group of believers meeting together for worship, teaching, and edification, under biblically recognized church leadership, and observing the ordinances given by Christ. i.e. – The natural product of completely fulfilling the Great Commission is local churches.
The vast majority of epistles in the New Testament were addressed to local churches or leaders of local churches, which is a clear testimony that spiritual Christian life and maturity was considered to be normally done within the environment of the local church.
Jesus’ promise to build His church and biblical teaching regarding church discipline (see Matthew 18:15-20, 1 Corinthians) is set in the context of the local church.
Jesus’ messages to “the seven churches of Asia” in the early chapters of Revelation speak to the significance and centrality of local churches in the perspective of Christ, some 50 years after the giving of the Great Commission.
The 40+ “one another” commands of the New Testament all relate to body life within a local church context.
It is the local church of Antioch that the Holy Spirit uses in Scripture as our first model of a missionary sending church. The local church is seen to be the initiator, the means, and the ends of Gospel missions ministry.
Paul appeals to the local church of Rome to be the vehicle and provider of his pioneering aspirations to the last unreached area of the Mediterranean basin, the Iberian peninsula, “Spain”. (Romans 15:18-29)
John appeals to a church leader, Gaius, to continue his church’s good work of lavishly loving and providing for the needs of Gospel workers. In context, this was seen as the privilege and duty of the local church body, as partners in the truth with missionaries. (3 John 5-8)
The local church has a role in validating and approving workers set apart for ministry. (Acts 13:1-3; 14:26-28; 16:1-3; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; 5:22; Titus 1:5-9)