Every believer needs to be a member of a local church. This is a biblical reality for God’s glory, the edification of the community and the encouragement of your own soul.
But what if there are no healthy churches near you?
Here are a few encouragements:
- Pray, asking the Lord to provide what He has commanded.
- Commit to visiting every church in your community. You cannot claim there are no healthy churches near you if you haven’t put in the time and effort to find out.
- Pray more.
- Live missionally in recognizing that your situation is similar to that of a foreign missionary. Pray that the Lord would bless the harvest and send you fellow workers for the work of evangelism, exhortation and encouragement for His name’s sake.
- Pray again.
While there will be those in contexts without a gospel-centered church present, it would be helpful to re-evaluate the definition and vision of a healthy, sound and faithful church.
Are there really no faithful churches, or are you looking for something beyond faithful? Are you looking for a specific dynamic or charismatic personality to preach and lead in worship? Are you looking for not just good preaching, but great preaching? Are you looking for not just gospel-centrality, but to be led by someone who is writing a book on gospel-centrality?
To process through these questions, ask yourself the following:
- What are the essentials for a faithful local church according to the Scriptures?
- What are my comments, criticisms and concerns regarding local churches in my area?
- How are these comments, criticisms and concerns judged in the light of the Scriptures?
- Am I willing to sacrifice negotiable preferences for the sake of the kingdom? In what areas?
If there are truly no other churches, you have a couple of options. Both of which are difficult:
- Move. This is actually somewhat common. A number of families uprooted from unchurched and dechurched areas to DFW just to unite with The Village, and I know of similar trends in other churches.
- Start a church. This road is paved with difficulties, but it too needs to be considered. This church doesn’t need a website and building, but it does need elders/pastors, church discipline, regular gatherings and frequent participation in the sacraments.