Is this your request? Why aren’t churches established in more local areas? Will more be established soon?
by L. Leroy Neff
The Good News, December 1959
WE NEED a church where we can meet each Sabbath,” was a statement frequently heard at the recent Feast of Tabernacles. If you are one who wants to assemble with Christian brethren each Sabbath, and yet are unable to, you may wonder why this has not been made possible.
It is only natural that all of you in God’s Church should want to assemble on the Sabbath. It is also natural for some of you to become impatient at not having a local congregation.
But, there are reasons that more churches have not been established, and that a church may never be established in your local area. Here is a frank, straightforward answer to these questions with proof from your own Bible.
God’s Church Scattered
During the beginning months and years of God’s Church, following A.D. 31, God’s Church grew tremendously. On certain occasions, thousands were added to the Church. Here was the beginning of one tremendous local congregation or church. Was it God’s will that this trend continue?
The Bible shows us that it was not God’s will for all of His Church to be in just one place. It was only a short while until persecutions arose, and God’s Church was scattered. We read of this in the 8th chapter of Acts. Notice Acts 8:1, “And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” Also see Acts 8:4 and Acts 11:19.
Yes, God’s Church was scattered almost nineteen hundred years ago, and it has remained scattered to this day!
If it were contrary to God’s will that the Church be scattered, then He would call people in local church areas only. Therefore, the scattering and calling of God is according to His own Divine plan and will. God, not man, calls His Church, and rules His Church. It is only God, who is able to call us to repentance and to place us within His Church.
Salt of the Earth
God’s people are called the “salt of the earth” (Matt. 5:13). When food is seasoned with salt, a grain is found only here and there. It is a very small amount compared to all of the rest of the food. And so it is today with God’s Church. God’s Church is scattered, with one member in one city, another member in some other area. Even in large cities, we find God’s people still scattered. They are not grouped together in large gatherings.
If God’s people were all congregated together, and not scattered, then it could not be said of them that they are the salt of the earth.
Has God Made a Mistake?
God does not make a mistake when He calls or invites a person into His Church. A person may not answer that call. He may refuse, or may fall by the wayside, but God has not made a mistake. “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Rom. 11:29). The call that God gives is not a mistake. God may be sorry that we have failed to repent, or overcome. But He is not sorry that He has called us to repentance, or has opened our minds to understand His truth.
God has called some of you completely alone. No one else in your family believes as you do. Do you think that God has made a mistake in calling you only, while not calling the rest of your family? Or do you believe that God has called you in that state, knowing the problems and trials you will face, and knowing that they are necessary to develop you in your Christian life? If you think that it is a mistake that God has not called your companion, or your family, you may also think that God has made a mistake in calling you. After all, God did not have to call you. It was only by His great mercy, compassion and love toward you, that He opened your mind to understand so that you could come to repentance.
In like manner, if God has called you, alone in your area, don’t you believe that God understands and knows this?
God knows that a very large percentage of you may never have a local congregation to attend. Has God made a mistake? No! God has not made a mistake in calling you under these circumstances. But you may be making a mistake in expecting God to supply you with those things which are not now best for you.
Possibly God has called you, alone and apart from others, so that you might be able to grow spiritually in that environment. The apostle Paul states: “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called” (I Cor. 7:20). Apply this regarding the place where God has called you.
You should abide in the place where God has called you, until God makes it plain by circumstances, or by His ministers, that you should move elsewhere.
Don’t Move Unwisely
Oftentimes people who are just coming into God’s Church decide they want to move to one of God’s Churches, or to Pasadena. Without using any wisdom, they move and find that they are unable to find work. Then they become a burden on the Church. These things ought not to be, and yet they are repeated time after time. These people, in good faith, and yet not understanding, do not use wisdom. They are only concerned about the self. They want to attend a local church, not realizing that God may not have yet intended them to do so. They get ahead of God. Do not make this same mistake. Seek advice from God’s ministers before making such a change.
If you are dissatisfied in not having a church to attend, have you ever read the statement of the apostle Paul in Phil. 4:11 “…I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”
Have you learned to be content in whatever state you find yourself? Or are you discontented because God has not provided you with a local church? God knew when He called you whether or not you would be able to attend local Sabbath services. Are you now dissatisfied with that calling of God? You should be thankful and appreciate this very precious call of God. You should be content with what God has given you, and use the spiritual and physical tools that God has given you and work with the best of your ability.
If you are not able to assemble with a local congregation at present, do you realize that this is God’s will for you? Notice Romans 8:28. All of these things work together for our good. The fact that you do not as yet have a church is for your good. If this is not so, then according to this very scripture, you are not one of those who are called according to God’s purpose.
[Photo Caption – Here is an enlightening photograph showing the distribution of Church membership. Such aids as this are taken into consideration in making plans for the future. The map — here reproduced — has a dot to represent each family in the Church (not including the near-thousand added in the past summer). There are often several members in each family. Notice the concentration along the West Coast, especially at Headquarters, and in Texas.]
New Churches Established
Even though many in God’s Church are not able to assemble regularly in church congregations, God is still raising up new churches. During the past year, new churches have been established and raised up in Seattle, Washington; Long Beach, California; Sherman Oaks, California; Akron, Ohio; and now in New York City, New York. Yes, God is adding churches for which we should be very thankful and grateful.
If God makes it possible we hope to have additional churches within this next year. Possibly there will be two in Oklahoma, and others in California. In addition, new churches are planned in Australia and in England. Are you praying for God to raise up more of these churches? Or are you just praying for one in your area?
You may ask why more churches are not being raised up. Do you believe that it is entirely up to Mr. Armstrong, the ministry, or for Ambassador College to supply pastors for these churches? If so, you do not believe that Jesus Christ is the head of this Church. Mr. Armstrong cannot call a person to repentance, nor can he put within an individual the qualities necessary for a minister. Only God can give these gifts, make such a call, and set aside a person for the ministry. This is God’s Church and Jesus Christ is the head. It is through the power of His Holy Spirit that He guides His ministers in appointing men to these various offices. Notice Acts 13:2. Here we find where the Holy Spirit instructed the ministry to separate and ordain Barnabas and Saul for the work to which they were called. And so it is today.
God does not call all of those who come to Ambassador College to be ministers. Only a percentage of them are made ministers. There are many other positions of great need and importance in God’s work beside the ministry. There are many office and teaching positions that must be filled. It is God who decides, and who separates, those who come to Ambassador College to the work of the ministry and for other posts of duty.
As we look at how great this work has grown, from one of extreme smallness, to one of world-wide importance, it is evident that “the harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few” (Mat. 9:37). It is this way according to God’s will, and not contrary to His will! But we all can have a part in helping to alleviate, or correct this situation. The next verse tells us what we should do about it. It tells each one of us what to do. It does not leave the burden of this on Mr. Armstrong, the ministry, Ambassador College, or any other individual, but on each and every one in God’s Church. Notice verse 38. “Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.” Are you praying diligently and effectually as you should that God will send out more laborers into His harvest? Maybe instead of God’s ministry being at fault, you are at fault in not praying as you should that God will send forth laborers, and that churches will be raised up.
Our Fellowship with Christ
Some of you state that you do not have fellowship with others in the Church. What greater, more profitable, and more wonderful fellowship can you have than with Jesus Christ, the very head of this Church! When you read His Word, He talks to you. By prayer, you talk with Him. That fellowship can be wonderful beyond all words.
That is the fellowship you can have every day, and not just on the Sabbath.
In addition, you are able to attend the greatest fellowship, the largest Church meeting on earth each day in your own home. You can listen to The WORLD TOMORROW broadcast, with millions of other people. You also have The Good News, the Correspondence Course, The PLAIN TRUTH, the Co-Worker bulletins. All of these things keep you in contact with God’s Church. Many of you who have met other scattered brethren at the Feast correspond with them. In that way you also can have frequent fellowship with God’s people.
Some of you who are not able to attend local churches have said that you are not able to keep up with all the literature that we send out from here. If you are not able to read, study, and digest this information, how would you have time to attend a local congregation?
Now just what should you do about this problem? If you are not able to attend local services, you are not alone. Possibly three-fourths of God’s people are not able to attend local church services regularly. And God has made it this way according to His will. By trying to change your situation, you may be taking yourself out of the very environment that God wants you to spiritually grow in — the environment that He wanted you to overcome.
You can be a light and an example wherever you are. Even though you are alone, remember that if you, as a “grain of salt” have lost your savor, how will those around you be salted?
You need to develop patience. We all do. This is one way in which you can be patient, in overcoming the problems that come to you. Don’t feel sorry for yourself, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ wherever you are.
You need to pray fervently and effectually, with all diligence, that God will send forth more laborers into His harvest. Pray that God will raise up more churches in the places that He chooses.
Pray that God will guide His ministers in determining where to establish churches, when God provides the laborers.
Yes, you too can have a vital part in the establishing of new churches throughout the world. That part is to pray diligently that God will send forth more laborers into His ripened harvest.