What if we are God’s solution to the world’s brokenness? Common Ground Church pastor Ryan TerMorshuizen shares why he believes the local church is the hope of the world.
I heard a statistic a while ago that stated that the person you are is pretty much determined by the age of 13. Thirteen? Really?
The research, conducted by the Barna Group, went on to state that there are only three major factors that will cause you to change after this age. The first is if you have a true desire to change, the second is if you’re in a community, which provides an environment for change, and the third is what they called “acts of God”.
It hit me like a wave. Who better to provide those three things than the local church?
Suddenly, I realised that the local church is the ultimate environment for change because it’s where the gospel brings a real understanding of our identity, our purpose, and our destiny – calling us to change.
And not only is it the perfect community to come alongside those with a desire for change, it is also in the local church where we can have the greatest expectation for the miraculous ‘acts of God’ in ours and other peoples’ lives.
This was such a huge moment for me where everything fell into place. I committed myself freshly to the mission of the church, not because of the pay check but because I wanted to be part of bringing this message and building this community of change.
The lights had gone on for me. The church really is the hope of the world.
That’s quite a statement.
Yes, it is. And I hope a few of you are now asking yourselves, “But isn’t Jesus the hope of the world?”
And of course he is! The only reason I can say that the church is the hope of the world is because Jesus is the true and ultimate ‘hope of the world’ and the church is called to represent him.
One day he will return and reveal himself in fullness but until then he has chosen to link himself to human instrumentality and use us – his church – to spread this good news and point people towards him.
And so we, the church, become the hope of the world in our time.
Why the church?
The word ‘church’ is a loaded one that means many different things to different people. So it’s important to clarify that when I talk about the ‘church’ I’m not referring to a building or an organisation.
As Christ-followers, we are all ‘scattered’ as the church into our many different communities, families and work places, while still being grafted into the greater body of Christ. And there is also the ‘local’ or ‘gathered’ church, which is a gathering of believers in a certain area under a specific leadership team of biblically mandated elders and deacons.
William Temple wrote that, “The church is the only cooperative society that exists for the benefit of its non-members.”
Almost everywhere in the Bible, evangelism and social concern go hand in hand. When we look at the life of Christ we see that Jesus held in tension a relationship between evangelism and social concern. It is said that he went about both “teaching and preaching” and also “doing good and healing”.
That’s why the local church becomes the hope of the world, not just in the redemptive potential of people being healed and transformed by the love of Christ, but also in the redemptive potential of Christ-followers being ignited with a passion to restore justice and love one another in a way that brings human flourishing to all.
We are the hope of the world.
When we see the brokenness and despair in the world, it’s tempting to ask “What is the church doing to fix this?” or “Why isn’t the church involved here?”
We should be cautious not to shift the responsibility off our shoulders and onto the shoulders of local church leaders and the church as an establishment.
The role of the leadership team of the local church is to “equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” (Ephesians 4: 12).
But ultimately we, as individual Christ-followers, are the church wherever we are and we are called to live out our faith in very practical ways.
What does this mean for us as individuals?
By saying that we are Christ-followers, we are saying that we are the incarnational, “sent” ones. We are the ones who, like Christ, go out.
We are the ones who leave behind privilege and comfort, just as Christ left behind the splendour of Heaven, to go into our earth, to make ourselves lowly amongst others in order that we may serve, teach and give our lives for them.
Once we start to see that each individual has an intrinsic value as created by God then we will count it a privilege to serve and do everything in our power to bring hope to human life.
Christ is ultimately the hope of the world, but until his return he has commissioned us to bring his hope into the world by living our lives in a way that continually points to him.
If we will fully take on this responsibility and get involved wherever we can to bring Christ’s wisdom and love into everything we’re a part of, then we’ll begin to see true transformation happening in our city.
– Ryan oversees the Common Ground Church base staff team, as well as the leadership team of Common Ground Bosch AM. He is married to Kate and they have three children.
What are some practical ways you can bring hope to the lives of those around you – particularly those who are in need?