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One church under God, indivisible

Mars Hill Church is an interesting church. We are one church in 14 locations and we are 14 churches in separate, local contexts.

It is important to keep our thinking broad when we are serving the church. We are all one worldwide Church, the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, and we are being built as God’s display people to show a lost world Jesus’ goodness. We, the church, are the mouthpiece of Christ, proclaiming the gospel of God (Mark 1:14).

So what does this have to do with being one church in 14 locations? Everything.  

It’s not about us

It is so easy for us in a local context to forget we are actually part of something bigger because we get so focused on our own expression of church. Mars Hill makes decisions at the central level for the good and betterment of all churches that God has given us the stewardship of. This truth isn’t easy for us, we can become so focused on what we believe is the right way that our methods become our idols. Truly, our response to our priorities being changed is a great insight into our heart, our feelings about submission and obedience to authority, and ultimately, Jesus.

New orders for the mission

I spent some time in law enforcement, and, like most uniformed agencies, we had a rank structure. I was a simple officer and held responsibility for how I carried out my orders and followed standard operating procedures. I was expected to think and actively adapt these orders and procedures to my understanding of situations I dealt with in my context. But from time to time, my operating procedures and orders were changed by higher ranking officers, and I would have to modify how I did my work. For the most part, I did not enjoy changing how I operated since I had become comfortable with how I did things and didn’t want to change. But, as I have matured as a Christian, I have come to see that when those in authority over me decide for the good of the agency (church, department or company) and those we serve to do things differently, I needed to willingly submit to them. If I didn’t make those changes, not only was I being disobedient by not obeying a direct command, I could be negatively affecting the mission of the agency.

So it is with a church like Mars Hill. I want to be flexible to the changes that come from those in authority above me. They have a much bigger view of what is good for the church, and they are responsible for the decisions they make. I, by God’s grace, get to adapt how I serve the church best, in light of what the men in authority over me see to be best for the church.

Jesus over all

Ultimately, Jesus is in total authority over the whole church. No matter where you fall in the rank structure, we are all in submission to him. We are responsible to him for how we lead the church and do the work of the ministry, but the “how” can always change as Jesus sees fit.

Let us not be so narrow-minded and disobedient we are left operating out of old orders and fighting the wrong battle. Let us be flexible and obedient when Jesus uses those in authority over us to change the battle plan and gives us new weapons to fight the battle.

A prayer

Lord, would we be obedient to those whom you have placed in authority over us, and would they be in submission to your leading. Jesus, thank you for growing your church and that your submission to the Father was the way in which you brought us victory over the enemy. Lord, please bless the worldwide church, the local church, and our ministry within the church. Keep us open to your leading and in submission to your authority. Amen.

Ryan Williams is the lead pastor of the Everett church.

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