I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.John 4:38
The Christian Congregation
Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20)
You could say this is a definition of a church. It isn’t the only definition, and not the best definition, but it is a good starting point.
A small group of Christian friends get together. They love Jesus Christ. The worship of God is important to them. They also want to tell others the Good News.
As the Holy Spirit works through them, they will grow in number. This is what happened about two thousand years ago.
The original “Twelve” apostles started to proclaim the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Most notably, Peter preached a powerful message.
And we’re told that “there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:41).
This would happen throughout the world and history. To the point that here in the United States, there is an estimated 350,000 churches, or one for every 935 persons.
The Christian Congregation in a Community
Virtually every community has at least one church. Usually there’s two or more – a Roman Catholic church and a Protestant church.
It isn’t unheard of to refer to a church by the community that it is in – such as St. John’s, Mayville or Immanuel, Palatine.
God places a Christian congregation in a community to serve that community. How? By proclaiming the Gospel to the people of that place. Also, by teaching the Christian faith to individuals and families.
The Christian Congregation in Communities
But then there’s the somewhat unique churches like St. Matthew Lutheran, Hawthorn Woods. St. Matthew Lutheran is in the village of Hawthorn Woods, which is a village with a population of over 7000, St. Matthew is the only church in the village! St. Matthew is truly the church of Hawthorn Woods!
But that might give the wrong impression. St. Matthew Lutheran, Hawthorn Woods doesn’t serve Hawthorn Woods exclusively.
The reality is that the vast majority of the members of St. Matthew Lutheran, Hawthorn Woods do not actually live in Hawthorn Woods.
St. Matthew Lutheran, Hawthorn Woods is a congregation of communities. The brothers- and sisters-in-Christ at St. Matthew Lutheran, Hawthorn Woods reside in the communities of Lake Zurich, Barrington, Wauconda, Island Lake, Mundelein, Vernon Hills, Arlington Heights, Lindenhurst, Ingleside (all in Illinois) and even in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin!
The Message to the Communities
St. Matthew Lutheran, Hawthorn Woods proclaims the Gospel to all the communities that her members live in. They also proclaim the Gospel to all other communities of the world by where they go to school, work, play, and also through social media and the internet (you can see St. Matthew Lutheran, Hawthorn Woods in action on Facebook and YouTube as well as their own website (click on any of those to go there).
What is the message St. Matthew, Hawthorn Woods proclaims? That Jesus Christ was
Was BORN – to be our SUBSTITUTE;
Lived PERFECTLY – to be our RIGHTEOUSNESS by faith;
DIED – to earn the FORGIVENESS of all sin;
ROSE from the dead – that we too might RISE from the grave one day; and
ASCENDED into heaven with the promise to return and give all believers in Christ eternal life in HEAVEN.
St. Matthew Lutheran, Hawthorn Woods proclaims – lives – this Gospel message in the community she resides, the communities her members live, and throughout the world.
I encourage you to be a part of a congregation that does the same!
Heavenly Father, You have called Your Church to proclaim the Gospel to the entire world. I pray that You will continue to pour out Your Holy Spirit that she may powerfully reach each community so that all who hear the Gospel may receive the gift of salvation. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
© 2019 True Men Ministries
You can help us in our re-vamping and re-building of the website, the podcast, and the twice-weekly devotional. Make a contribution to True Men Ministries by clicking here.
You can buy a paperback or Kindle version of the In My Father’s Footsteps devotions. There are also Christmas devotions that will be republished for Christmas 2019!