Have you noticed how the world has become more and more focused on the individual? The ‘dog eat dog’ nature of the workplace has crept into every area of society, meaning that community is on the plummet and individualism is on the rise.
Therefore, the church is a funny place because there isn’t, or shouldn’t be, any individualism.
Sadly though I’ve known many people ask the question ‘do I really need the church, can’t I just live out my Christian walk by myself?’
There are a number of issues with this question, here are a few that spring to mind;
1. It goes against scripture.
In the Bible Christians are called to gather together (Hebrews 10:25) and the church is described as a body (Ephesians 4:1-16; 1 Corinthians 12:1-27). The Church is a body, under the Head of Jesus, and Christians have been called into this community. Your primary reason for going to church should be to learn about God, grow in your knowledge and love for Him and to worship God.
Church is where we hear the gospel proclaimed, the Bible taught and where we share in fellowship with our fellow believers (Acts 2:42). Not going to church doesn’t seem to be an options when you read the New Testament, why then do we so easily buy into the idea?
2. It isn’t all about you.
Sometimes people stop going to church because they fall out with another person, their job makes them work on Sundays or they just like that extra hour in bed. But church isn’t about you.
One of the big problems in the church today is the consumer mentality, the idea that a church is only good as long as I can get out of it what I want. The consumer mentality is wrong because it puts the responsibility to serve on everyone else and it means that I can kick back, put my feet up and ask for a coffee. As Christians we are called to serve, in all areas of life, why would we devoid our brothers and sister from our service?
3. It is proud.
Generally speaking, behind the motivation to no longer attend church is the idea ‘surely I can do this by myself’. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when people can’t get to church (ill health, frailty, etc.) but we shouldn’t stop going to church because we think that we can survive on our own.
Jesus didn’t call his disciples to pick up their cross and walk in any direction they saw fit, he called them to follow him (Mark 8:34). Whilst Jesus is our leader and we all must follow him, God has gifted the church people who lead and who are examples (Ephesians 4:13). The role of these people is to equip and build up the local church for the service of Jesus, how would that work if we don’t go? Effectively, we are saying that we are not in need of equipping for service or in need of being built up. That is very proud!
Sadly my experience is that when people leave the church not only do they stop others blessing them with their fellowship, encouragements and love, but they also stop themselves from blessing others. I have been so blessed in recent years to get to know many people and as you live with people you get to know their struggles. One of the biggest encouragements to me has been seeing people who are really struggling walk into church on a Sunday morning and sit under God’s Word, their example has spurred me on.
I’ll write more about this in the future, but if we are not plugged in at our local church how will we…
– Be discipled by other more mature believers
– Be challenged in our faith to keep us on the right track
– Be held accountable as we wrestle with sin
– Be disciplined
– Be growing in our faith
– Be encouraging other Christians
Most of the stories of people who have stopped attending church have sadly ended with them walking away from God, and that should break our hearts!
If you know someone who is falling off the radar of your local church, speak to them.
If you’re worried about a friend or family member then go with them.
If you’re doubting whether church is the place for you or not, just go.
So as you think about whether or not to go to church tomorrow morning, set your alarm and go to glorify God with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Take a friend along so that they too can see the wonderful counter-cultural community that the church is.