The church could be thought of not as an outpost, but an embassy. The building in the picture is the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, a little sliver of land belonging to the U.S. within a foreign country. It is there to represent the U.S. and its interests.
In a similar way, the church is a sliver of the kingdom of God within the world. This sliver exists in our community to represent God’s truth to the secular world. The church is like an embassy and we are ambassadors. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:20, “…we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
One of the reasons the church matters so much is because we represent God to a watching world! It probably isn’t theologically correct to say that a place is “God-forsaken” because God is present everywhere. But… there are places in the world that are almost completely church-forsaken.
Take Somalia for example. Somalia’s population is over 11 million and there are only a few hundred known believers there. According to an article in The Guardian, “Islam is the state religion, and converting to another religion is illegal. The Islamist group al-Shabaab has stated that it wants to rid Somalia of all Christians, and people suspected of following the faith are likely to be killed on the spot. Many meet in secret, or don’t meet at all, and cannot own Bibles.” In Somalia, there are 11 Million people who have no access to truth.
Or, consider the 26 million people who call Yemen home. There are only a few thousand Christians in that country. Again, according an article in The Guardian, “Yemeni Christians must keep their faith a secret. Tribal leaders in the country often punish people who wish to leave Islam, and al-Qaida, which is active in the country, has been known to kidnap and kill Yemeni Christians.” The gospel is nothing but a well-kept secret for these 26 million people.
In a place like Somalia or Yemen, there are no known churches. These are entire countries with practically no access to the gospel. For a region to be without a church means that it does not have the access it needs to truth or to Jesus. It is tragic beyond description.
Lacking a Biblical church in a community is not like lacking a Trader Joe’s or a Harkins movie theater. It is more like lacking clean water, breathable air, or access to a doctor. Bible teaching churches are an absolute necessity for every community to have access to the gospel. The true church play a critical role in giving local people access to God and access to the gift of eternal life.
Every town needs a church. The priority for the establishment of local church fellowships is seen all throughout the New Testament. It is clear in God’s Word that the world needs churches in every place where there are people.