Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series on “Learning Humility through Church History” by Jason Duesing, vice president for strategic initiatives and assistant professor of historical theology at Southwestern Seminary. To read other articles in this series, click here.
The study of the history of Christianity should drive the child of God to desire to serve the churches of God. The thread of continuity that runs throughout history is the work of God to preserve his church (Matt. 16:18). God’s plan is bigger than, although it certainly involves, individualized ministries. Our Lord has designated his churches as the vehicles to carry out the Great Commission. The barometer of faithfulness in Christian ministry is judged not by what one may bring as an individual to the work of the kingdom, but rather what one contributes as a servant in the churches of the kingdom.
This reminder warns the student against a kind of self-exalting ministry that would exist regardless of the people he serves. Service to the local churches is service to the people of God. Without the local church’s recognition of God’s hand on the life of the minister, the minister will only function as well as a head could without its body. If the study of church history does anything, it should lead one joyfully to see the churches of God as more important than himself (Phil. 2:3). When this occurs the student can only help but feel the expectations of hope for a lifetime of ministry for and with God’s people.
Without the local church’s recognition of God’s hand on the life of the minister, the minister will only function as well as a head could without its body.