Over the past several decades there has been an increase in professing Christians who are disillusioned with the church. Many can be heard to say something like this: “I love the Lord, but I don’t like the church.” If you think about it, that’s sort of like saying, “Jesus, I love You, but I can’t stand Your wife.” The church is called “the Bride of Christ.” It’s kind of like saying, “I love to swim, but I don’t like the water.”
This attitude of “church bashing” may stem from a misunderstanding of what the church really is. The church is NOT a building, a denomination, an organization, or a club — the church is a family, the family of God. It’s not a building or a place you go to; the church is a family you belong to. The church is God’s forever family, founded by the Lord Himself.
Why is the church necessary?
- It is necessary for the fellowship of believers. God’s plan is not for us to be lone rangers, but to associate with other believers to carry out His will. A Christian without a church is like a bee without a hive or a child without a family. Every Christian needs a place to plug into and be connected with other believers. Fellowship of believers is a command from God (Hebrews 10:24-25). It is extremely important that all Christians, especially new Christians, have good fellowship. The church provides this. In good fellowship, believers receive mutual encouragement (Romans 1:12), mutual edification (1 Corinthians 12:14-27), and a sharing of joys as well as burdens (Galatians 6:2).
- It is necessary for the teaching of believers. A good church provides needed teaching and training so Christians can grow in their spiritual lives and be equipped to serve others (2 Peter 3:18). It is important to know what the Word of God teaches so that we will not be led astray by false doctrine (2 Timothy 2:15).
- It gives opportunity for corporate worship of God. God demands and desires our faithful, loving worship. This worship is to be both personal as well as corporate (Psalm 34:3). Group worship, singing, and praise is both honoring to God and helpful for our growth as individual believers as well as that of our assembly (Acts 2:41-47).
- It gives us an opportunity for service. The church provides us with a setting where we can use the gifts God has given us for His glory (1 Peter 4:10). We can work together toward some project or outreach, such as evangelizing our community as well as world missions (Matthew 28:18-20). We are commanded to do works that reflect our faith (Ephesians 2:10).
Who needs the church?
We all do! There is strength in numbers. By ourselves we may not be much. But when we join with other believers in the church, our brothers and sisters in Christ, we become a powerful force. Vance Havner is quoted as saying, “Snowflakes are fragile things, but if enough of them stick together they can stop traffic.” We need the church for all of the above reasons, but even if we didn’t know all the reasons the church is necessary, it would be enough to know that God commands us to be a part of a local, visible, New Testament church (Hebrews 10:25). Are you?