According to Heb 10:25, we are to assemble together in church, and so much the more as we see the day approaching. If Auré were to minister in Réunion Island, would it be necessary for him to gather new believers to assemble together in church?
When we were in Réunion Island with Auré and Lizzie, we rested but we also surveyed the field. We noticed a great need for the sound doctrinal preaching of the gospel. The island is heavily influenced by Catholicism. Every major coastal city is named for a Catholic saint. Along the beach and in the markets, Auré was able to witness to locals. There was a broad range of response to the gospel. However, we only found one believer who had a genuine testimony of salvation.
We learned that she had been lead to the Lord by a pastor of a church called, Eglise Sans Frontières, or Church Without Borders. We found out that there was a church plant of this church in L’Hermitage, where we were staying. So we went to one of the services. They met in a Catholic Church. There were about a dozen people. The service was nearly an hour of praise choruses followed by communion and about 35-40 minutes of preaching. We met the pastor and his family and were invited to be guests in their home about an hour away. Nice people, good time of fellowship. Noticeable lack of training in the Bible.
We discussed the potential for Auré to return to Réunion Island to minster. With his citizenship, fluency in both French and Creole, understanding of the culture, and opportunity to support his family as a recruiter and coach, he has many advantages. And the need is great. He could do what we do here. He could pass out tracts, witness, build relationships, lead souls to the Lord, and disciple new converts.
But what about starting a church? Would there ever be a need to start a local church and build a building in this island where real estate is very expensive? Once you meet in a location and hang a sign on the entrance, can you really call this a church? People heavily influenced by Catholicism would look at this and question whether this is a cult. In Acts, churches were the people not the buildings in which they met. He could easily assemble the converts under the Filaos trees next to the beach. But why would he?
Why do we assemble together in a local church? What is it that we do together that can’t really be done when you are alone?
Exhortation – Heb 10:25. We are encouraged and strengthened by the mutual faith of others. We’re not in this new life with Christ alone. We have a place of refuge from the world.
Congregational singing – Col 3:16. We praise the Lord, Ps 69:30-31. But we also encourage each other. Soldiers are stirred and encouraged by their fight song. Students and athletes are encouraged by their school “fight song”.
Preaching – 2 Tim 4:2-4. Good preaching involves reproof, rebuke, exhortation with sound doctrine. In Eph 4:12-15 the gift of the pastor and teacher to the church is growth, maturity, and protection against every wind of doctrine. Church is a great place for children to grow up.
Work of the ministry – Eph 4:16 we are fitly joined together. The convert we met in Réunion had been witnessing to the woman who set up a booth next to her. She had been encouraged to do this by attending her local church. In 1 Cor 12:18 we are set in the body by God. And God does his work through the saints assembling in a local church.
Intercessory prayer – Jas 5:16 Pray for one another. In Gal 6:2 we bear one another’s burdens, fulfilling the law of Christ to love one another.
Conclusion: Yes. If God leads souls to Jesus Christ through Auré’s work on Réunion in the future, then he would also lead those believers to assemble together in a local church, in time. The believers become the local church. The local church is not a name, or an organization, or a building. It’s the people.
Though we have buildings, we have so much more when we assemble together. We should be thankful for what God has given us together in Bible Believers Baptist Church.