In today’s society, “church” is often a word that leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths. So many people have had bad church experiences that they often give up on the idea completely. Has the institution outlived its usefulness? Is the church even relevant anymore?
The Christian church is still moving forward
The reality is, no matter where you visit in the world, The Christian church is still moving forward. In most communities, there is at least one, and often times multiple, thriving Christian communities that are having a positive influence on many people’s lives.
There are several reasons why someone should be joined to a local church. First of all, the church is the only visible expression of Jesus in the world today. The Apostle Paul made multiple references to the church as “the body of Christ.” Being connected to the church is, in a very real sense, being connected to Jesus.
This thought often chafes Christians that live in the independent-minded western world. Many Christians want to be free to come and go to church as they please. The idea of committing to a single church is hard for many people. If the church, however, is the body of Christ, then the only way that Jesus’ hands can touch the community is for the individual believers to unite together with one heart and vision.
True life and salvation
A second reason that it is important to be joined to a local church is that that is where true life and salvation is found. The great Church Father Augustine said, “If God is my Father, the Church is my mother.” While it is possible to make a decision to follow Jesus outside of a church, it is very difficult to grow as a Christian apart from a community of faith. God never intended that we live the Christian life in isolation. We were always intended to be connected to other believers.
It is also important for Christians to learn what it really means to follow Jesus in the process of discipleship. Again, this can only be accomplished in the context of community. Jesus called twelve men to be His disciples. He invested His life in these men and they became the ones who literally changed the world with the message of the Gospel.
Being a part of a local church also provides a context for one to serve in. Jesus made it clear that He expected His followers to invest their time, talent, and treasure in His Kingdom. The local church is the physical expression of His Kingdom. Many churches are involved in reaching out and meeting real needs in their community. Some churches assist homeless shelters. Others have outreaches to single mothers in the community. Still, other churches sponsor after school programs for children in their area.
Aside from these kinds of outreaches, there are also many other areas in which a person can serve in their local church. Most churches are volunteer-driven. They might have a small paid staff, but any number of volunteers that serve a few hours a week. These volunteers might include children and youth workers, musicians and singers, cleaners, cafe workers, and so many others.
Jesus told His disciples that people would know that they were His followers by how they loved one another. There is nothing more attractive than a vibrant, healthy church. People find their closest friends and often a husband or wife in their church. Having great friends to enjoy life with is another great reason to be connected to a local church.