I absolutely love the local church. I really do believe that the church is the hope of the world. If you call yourself a Christian but are not a committed member of a local church, the authenticity of your claim may be challenged.
When I invite people to come to church, some say they do not believe in “organized religion.” I tell them that if they actually stepped into a church, they would realize it is not that organized. Some are more than others. So why should everyone be a part of a local church? I want to present five reasons to substantiate this statement:
1. It is biblical. Jesus created the concept of the church. Jesus built (and continues to build) the church (Matt. 16:18). Jesus died for the church (Eph. 5:25b). Jesus rose again in order that the church would have an eternal feast in heaven with Him. All of the apostles were commissioned by Jesus to carry out the mission of Jesus through the church of Jesus. The anonymous writer to the Hebrews encourages us to not neglect meeting together (Heb. 10:25). Jesus desires us to be in a church and the bible demands of us to be a part of a church. If you have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus, you are now a fellow citizen with the saints and members of the household of God (Eph. 2:19). Most people I know love their family, no matter how dysfunctional they may be. It is no different with our spiritual family. Yes, it can be fun to visit other families, but eventually you want to come home. This is why it is important and biblical to be a committed member of one local church.
2. It is normative. For the Christian, it is a normal state of being to be a part of a church. I have heard some people say that they love Jesus, but dislike the church. This is impossible. Jesus loves the church. With all of its distressing idiosyncrasies. He loved her so much that he spent a grueling night in a garden, drenched in blood, prayerfully preparing to redeem the church. The spiritually dead person is quickened by the gospel, drenched in the reality of it and is saved by it. After this, a passion ignites within the person to learn to live within a community of faith. The church is there to welcome this person to love them and to be of service to them.
3. It is formative. The Apostle Paul describes the church as being one body with many members (1 Cor. 12:12-27). The church is the furnace that will form you to become more like Christ. When I say the word “church” I am referring to the redeemed, blood-bought sinners who you see positioned to the left and right of you on the pew every week or two. I would venture to say you will grow more in every single life sphere in the local church than in any other context. Think about it. Because of God’s gospel, you are now united to share in this good news with a diverse group of people. People who you might not like. People who might irk you or bother you. People that are the farthest thing from your comfort circle. People that you would absolutely, positively, never would even come close to spending time with. But, you do. But it does not stop there. You learn to serve people. You learn to serve these people. You learn to serve with people. You are served by people. You hate it! But you love it! It is glorious. It is marvelous. It is exactly what God intended, what Jesus orchestrated and what the Holy Spirit empowered. You grow to love it, to be blessed by it and to be formed through it. The growth you experience as a person is exponential. The growth you experience as a Christian is staggering. It is a win-win situation. Albeit painful at times but formative and beneficial nevertheless.
4. It is affirmative. By being a member of a local church, you are making a definitive and discriminative declaration to the rest of the world. You have been saved by the gospel. You have been soaked by the gospel. You have miraculously believed in the death, burial and resurrection of your Lord and Savior Christ Jesus. You now have a new found life. You have a deep seated joy that is not only indescribable but at times even inexpressible. Just being a member of a local church is already a tantalizing testimony to those who have not yet declared Jesus as Lord over their whole life. When you are a member of a local church, you are affirming to others your citizenship in the Kingdom of Christ. You are a living proclamation of the fact that your highest and deepest allegiance belongs to Christ and in Christ alone. The glory of God as it is revealed in His glorious Son is put on full display for the whole world to see. This affirmation is only actualized when you become a committed congregant in a local church.
5. It is exhilarating. I saved the last point to be my best point. Being in and among a local church is exhilarating. If you are in a church now, you know exactly what I am talking about. If you do not, you should examine your walk with the Lord first, not try to look for a new church. Where else will you see:
- dead people come alive (spiritually)
- the sick healed
- the grieving comforted
- the depressed become joyful
- the mean-spirited become kind-hearted
- the arrogant become humble
- the conceited become contrite
- the hard-hearted become soft-hearted
- the lofty become approachable
- the inattentive become servants to everyone
- the greedy become generous
- the life-takers become life-givers
- the gray-haired getting along with the spiky-haired
- the mo-hawk getting along with the faux-hawk
- the v-neck getting along with the crew-neck
- the suit & tie working together with the shirt and no tie
- the stilettos giving props to the flats
- the bow-tie playing nice with the skinny tie
- the Mac’s mingling with the PC’s
- the coffee addicts becoming friends with the tea-pot devotee’s
- The gas-guzzling g-wagon yielding to the hybrid hatchback
Where else in the world will you find this, except in the church of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! It is exhilarating to be in a church. It is invigorating to be part of a church. It is a privilege to be the church. When we see people come from the pit of hell into the palace of heaven, we sing glory to God along with a host of His angels. The experience is unparalleled. The emotion is unmatched. The circumstance is effervescent. This all happens in and amongst the church of Christ, for the glory of God by the grace of God.
Question: What other reasons do you think are valid for being a committed congregant?