Why should you join a local church?

Every now and again, as a Pastor, I get asked,

Why should I join a local church? I mean, I’m a Christian, which means I’m a part of the universal church. I attend church semi-regularly. Why do I have to join a local church?

For the most part, that’s an honest question. And an honest question deserves an honest answer. So:

Why should you join a local church?

I believe there are several reasons. Let’s look closer at those now.

(1) God has commanded it in Scripture. 

The writer of Hebrews says,

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb 10:24–25)

First things first. God has commanded us to join together with one another. Since we are commanded to gather together for the purposes of helping one another grow in love and good works, we aren’t to neglect that activity. In order to know which people you are to gather with, you need to commit to them. You show your commitment by joining that particular church.

(2) God has given us the local church as a place where you can:

  • Use your spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12; 14; Eph 4)
  • Learn more about Him (Joshua 1:8; Ps 1:2; 112:1; Matt. 4:4)
  • Be held accountable and be helped to grow in your spiritual walk (Heb. 13:7, 17; 1 Jn 5:14-15; 1 Tim. 2:8; Eph. 6:16-18; James 5:16; Phil. 1:15-18; Gal. 2:11-16; Col. 1:21-23)
  • As well as it is a place through which you can serve others and the community (1 Tim. 5:3-16; Acts 6:1-7; James 1:27; Matt. 28: 18-20; John 6:35-40)

It is hard to do those things if you aren’t a member of a church. That’s because people in the church don’t know if you want them to hold you accountable or not. The leadership doesn’t know if you want them to shepherd and guide you spiritually. Nor does the church as a whole know if you want them to help you use your spiritual gifts.

In reality, you may not even be given the opportunity to use all your spiritual gifts if you aren’t a member. At the church I pastor, if you aren’t a member, you can’t head up a ministry, you can’t teach, you can’t serve on different committees, nor can you be a Deacon. We aren’t the only church that limits people in these ways. Many churches limit non-members ability to serve.

So for those reasons, I believe it is important you join a local church.

When I say local, I mean local.

I know it’s popular to attend a church with a big name celebrity pastor. Generally, they have more resources, deliver better sermons, and produce better content. They didn’t garner the following they have without being able to do those things. While it’s fine to attend those churches, I’m not against big churches or celebrity pastors, I don’t think you should drive out of your local area to do so. I say that because doing so will generally make attending weekly worship services and other church activities a burden. I don’t know about you, but I usually don’t do that which is a burden consistently.

When you aren’t attending regularly, you usually aren’t serving, holding others accountable and being held accountable, or serving the community. Instead, you become a pew sitting consumer who shows up a couple of times a month. When I read Hebrews 10, I don’t think that is the type of gathering together with one another the author had in mind.

Question for Reflection

  1. What are your thoughts on local church membership?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon: What is the Church and Why is it Important?

Fathers, Direct Your Kids Toward that Which Matters – Part 4

Solomon, one of the wisest kings ever to live, at the end of his life wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. He wrote not only to his children but to his kingdom and us as well. The book itself consists of Solomon’s learned wisdom. Wisdom he seeks to pass down so that we won’t waste our life chasing after that which doesn’t matter. In doing so, he continues to be a vessel of living water to all who read it.

Fathers when you think about deliberately writing to your children. Whether it be in the margins of your Bible or in a short book like Solomon has written. When you think about it, what advice, what wisdom, what direction would you give your children?

That’s a big question, a deep question, one that requires a lot of thought. In order to help get the juices flowing, we’re going to look at some of the wisdom Solomon passes down. Wisdom that’s lost in our current cultural moment. The topics we are going to explore are pleasure, career, and money.

That’s our roadmap, so let’s dive in.

What can provide ultimate meaning, satisfaction, and purpose in life?

What should we chase after? And what should we encourage our kids to chase after? At the end of the book, Solomon says this in verse 13 of chapter 12,

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ec 12:13)

Serving God and living as He commands is the only activity that’s going to provide ultimate meaning, satisfaction, and purpose in life. And that’s because God has created us for that purpose. When we live in the way God has designed for us to live, when we have a right relationship with Him, then and only then will we experience and gain that for which we long.

I know you all have heard the saying,

“You have a hole in your heart that only God can fill.”

And that’s true. Money, pleasure, career, and anything else we want to try and fill that hole up with won’t satisfy. It will always leave us empty and grasping for more. So we should heed Solomon’s counsel, his advice, his wisdom, and pursue God above anything else this world has to offer. God is the only One that will ultimately satisfy.

Conclusion

And that — a life dedicated to God — is what we must ultimately pass down to our children. So fathers let today be the day that motivates you to be the spiritual leader in your family, to point your children to the things of God instead of the things of this world. Not only will their life on earth be better for it, but they will experience true meaning, satisfaction, and purpose that will transcend this world and provide them with eternal life.

Quit chasing after the things of this world and start chasing after God!

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you understand that God is the only One who can provide you meaning and purpose?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon: Fathers, Direct Your Kids Toward that Which Matters

What is the Church?

If we are going to live in a certain way as the church, then we need to know what the church is. So:

What is the church?

One popular belief is that the church is a building. Even though that belief is false, the building you attend church in is not the house of God, it does have some biblical basis. In the Old Testament, the Temple was the house of God. It was where God lived, where He resided.

When you move into the New Testament, however, the Temple is no longer seen as the place where God resides. Instead, God resides in us, which makes us the Temple of God. Paul makes this clear in another one of his letters. Writing to the Corinthians he says,

“Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.” (1 Co 3:16–17)

We, then, are the Temple of God, which means the building you attend worship in, no matter how nice and elaborate, isn’t the house of God.

If church buildings aren’t the church, then what is the Church?

Let me give you my specific definition. This definition comes from ideas in Paul’s letter to Timothy.

The church is the people of the living God gathered together in community, who spread God’s truth in order to make disciples and glorify God.

Now, let’s break that down some.

First, the Church is the People of the living God 

The church is made up of specific people who are marked out by God as His. The church, then, isn’t made up of everyone in the world, or even everyone who attends the worship service. Instead, the church is made up of a specific people who have been marked out by God as His.

Second, the Church is the people of the living God gathered together in community

I believe this is an important idea for us to grasp, especially given our current cultural climate. As one author puts it,

“The American Church as a whole struggles with consumerism, nominalism and individualism.” [1]

You see, we often think the church is just a place that we come to get “our needs met”. If we don’t feel like we are getting our needs met at church A, then we head on over to church B for a while until we decide they aren’t doing it for us, and the trend continues. After a while, we may get tired of church hopping and decide that we are just going to stay home on Sundays. If we are honest with ourselves, we do this because we are individualistic people.

I think that it used to be in generations past that we felt like we were a part of something. That we were a people who were moving forward together. But that’s not the cultural narrative anymore. Now it’s all about me.

But here is the thing. As a Christian, you aren’t an individual. You are a part of something bigger than yourself. You are a part of the people of God, the church. Which means that as Christians, we must belong to a local church. If you aren’t yet a member of a local church, then you should be actively looking for a church to join. If you have attended a church for a long period of time, and you haven’t joined that church, there is a disconnect somewhere because we should all be members of the local church we are attending regularly.

Next time, I’ll discuss why that should be the case when I answer the question: Why should you join a local church? But for now, we need to continue with our definition.

(3) The Church is the people of the living God gathered together in community, who spread God’s truth in order to make disciples and glorify God.

The Church possesses the truth

The Church has something the world doesn’t. It possesses the truth about God and salvation. The world is quick to tell us that God doesn’t exist, as well as it’s quick to point us to things that they believe are going to save us.

  • Technology
  • Fixing climate change
  • Eradicating inequality.
  • Governmental assistance.
  • Cryonics
  • A trip to Mars and beyond
    and the list goes on.

As a side noet, if you have ever wondered why people are so passionate about these things, it’s because they believe they provide salvation. While most of these things aren’t bad, none are worthy of our hope, because none will ultimately save us. The only thing that is ultimately going to save us is the gospel message about Jesus. The Church possesses this message, which means it has the truth. The truth about God and salvation. Truth to which we should listen and respond.

So the Church possesses the truth.

The church is to spread the truth in order to make disciples and glorify God.

Our mission as the Church is given in Matthew 28, and it is to make disciples.
The way we make disciples is not only by sharing the gospel with others and calling them repent and believe but also by helping them understand how they are to live as God’s people.

So to wrap this up, then, the church is the people of the living God gathered together in community, who spread God’s truth in order to make disciples and glorify God.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you agree with my definition of the church?

Resources

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Post adapted from my sermon: What is the Church and Why is it Important?

[1] Matt Capps, Baptist Churches and Membership Covenants