Twelve years ago, in a moment of tardy recognition, I wrote an editorial for the Adventist Review, sister journal of Adventist World, titled “Your Church Is Too Small.” The editorial—and the title—were not the general complaint they appeared to be: the words were actually aimed at the author—me—for only lately realizing that my understanding of the scope and scale of God’s remnant church had been far too small. It was my vision that had been myopic and restricted, for I had been used to counting only part of what God’s people were really doing to build up His kingdom.
As a pastor and editor for 20 years by then, I had grown accustomed to noticing the mission and activities of what we sometimes glibly describe as “the organized church.” I knew the routines of congregational life—the worship services, witnessing activities, board meetings, and Sabbath schools. I was a product of 18 years of Adventist education—and entirely glad of it. I thought of Adventist witness mostly in terms of what paid employees accomplished through public evangelism, sponsored mission service, and literature produced by church-owned publishing houses.
And then the Lord began to open my eyes to see the real church—the vast and wonderfully diverse collection of Holy Spirit-gifted individuals, supporting ministries, parachurch organizations, lay-sponsored schools, and literature ministries that tirelessly work to spread the three angels’ messages in places no paid employee has yet gone. These are men and women, teens and senior citizens, who have realized that waiting for church funding or the approval of an official committee may actually delay obedience to Jesus’ Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:20). They have picked up the tools nearest to them—their vocal talents, their love of children, their skill at baking bread, their joy in Bible study—and turned them into ministries that win hundreds of thousands to the truth each year. Living, working, and witnessing without stable budgets, predictable supplies, or the promise of a retirement pension, they have discovered the irreplaceable joy of answered prayers and daily miracles that keep a ministry solvent.
Keep praying for the “organized church,” my friends; but broaden both your praying and your seeing to include tens of thousands of your brothers and sisters who labor not for money but for love. And when you meet them, let them hear from you what they will one day surely hear from Jesus Himself: “Well done; well done; well done!”
— Bill Knott
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