“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:19-20 NIV
What is it about God that He seemingly delights to send us where once we would not go? Many years ago I vowed never to pastor a certain small church in New England. Almost thirty years after making that vow, guess where God sent me? Now in “retirement” from that assignment, I find God has had other surprising assignments for me. Presently, I am serving as a transitional pastor in a small church, (yes, a very small church) one which I would never have considered years ago. It is a church that I once would have found easier to write off than to pursue a ministry of redevelopment. So, why God, why?
During my doctoral study at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, I was introduced to an old book written by one of the seminary’s founders, Adoniram Judson Gordon. One paragraph in that book transformed the way in which I now view ministry.
“Why not withdraw from the church which has become thus secularized and desecrated? To which we reply emphatically: Until the Holy Spirit withdraws we are not called upon to do so. And He is infinitely patient, abiding still in His house so long as there are two or three who gather in Christ’s name to constitute a templum in templo, a sanctuary within a sanctuary, where He may find a home…So we strongly believe that a few Spirit-filled disciples are sufficient to save a church; that the Holy Ghost, acting through these, can and does bring back recovery and health to the entire body.” Gordon, How Christ Came to Church, p. 61
Does a gathering of two or three constitute a church within a church as Gordon implies? Has he ripped Matthew chapter 18 and verse 20 out of its context, one which focuses on the ministry of church discipline and restoration? Or has he correctly understood that if Christ promises His presence when the church is about the difficult business of church discipline, He is certainly present whenever two or more gather in His name for other matters as well? Does the Father not hear and promise to grant His favor whenever two or three agree and pray the mind of Christ concerning His church? I submit that if that two or three Spirit-filled disciples are present, there exists a real hope for renewal and life. And, my wife and I have found more than two or three where God has sent us. God has heard their prayers, and is about to do what no other can do! What better place to be and to serve than where God is working and has promised to work?