There are many excuses that professing Christians use for not going to church. Some people feel they have been hurt by other churches or people, some feel they are too busy for church, and some feel they have their Ipod to grow on their own, so what do they need church for.
I want to use this post to address these excuses and show five clear reasons that being part of a local church is integral for the Christian.
1) Go to Church to Demonstrate the Gospel
If you have been “burned” before by other church members, a pastor falling into (or diving into) sin, a church split, or some injustice that was overlooked, guess what, that is the first part of the gospel. Everyone, including you, are filthy rotten sinners. And the second part of the gospel is that Christ died for us and took on God’s wrath as an atonement for our sins (and sufficiently for their sins) while we were still all sinners. He demonstrated His love for us in that way.
Being part of a local church allows you the opportunity to demonstrate that unconditional love of self-sacrifice to others that God commands us to do, because He demonstrated that kind of love first towards us. If your reason for not going to church or being a member of a church is past hurts, than you are simply not trusting on the gospel that saved you and living the life of love that Christ commands us to live.
2) Go to Church Because Christ Died for the Church
Christ literally died for the Church because He died for believers. Therefore, if your excuse is “I’m just too busy right now,” I would think again about that excuse in context of what Jesus did. We make time for the things that are important to us and to Christ, the Church was everything. He died for it, He said He will build it, and He loves it as His bride. We should be ready to do the same and to not go to church because we are “too busy” exchanges something of earthly value for something of eternal value.
3) Go to Church to Grow
No you may be saying, “I can grow on my own.” With the increase of the Internet and digital resources, many of us can grow in our sanctification and grow in holiness through listening to sermons and reading blogs. And much of this thinking has stemmed out of “have a personal relationship with Jesus.” But the Bible does not command us as Christians to simply have a personal relationship with Jesus, as that phrase is never used in the Bible once. The Bible calls for Christians to have anything but a personal relationship with Christ but grow in context of a corporate relationship called the church.
The Bible is full of “one anothers” (http://thecripplegate.com/40-reasons-to-be-part-of-a-local-church/) and the Christian should be seeking to practice these one anothers with on-going relationships with other believers. Things like confess your sins to one another, build up one another, pray for one another, be devoted to one another, bear one another’s burdens – these are all calls to the Christian to be a part and a member of a local church.
I am convinced that it is simply impossible to do all of these outside of the context of a local church on your own.
4) Go to Church to Live an Uncompromising Life
Paul gave Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:3 specific instructions about the church and the emphasis was on hearing the Word, being called to obedience and application through exhortation, and teaching. It is only in the context of the local church (a good Bible-teaching local church) that this can take place. Acts 2:42 shows us what the early church did when they met together. They learned God’s Word and the implications on their lives, they carried out the acts of love and service to one another, they broke bread to commemorate the Lord’s death and resurrection, and they prayed together. This is the structure of the local church and these are things we can only do with a local church.
We must also be ready to submit to godly men who are shepherds over our soul (as shown in Hebrews 13:7 and 17). God graciously grants us accountability and help through godly leadership. If you have trouble submitting yourself to a pastor or an elder, then take a look at your pride and understand that God calls us submit for our well-being. Through submission to Godly shepherds, teaching through the Word, and encouragement, we will be able to live a life without compromise and stand firm in our convictions. Without the local church in this regard, you are left battling the elements on your own.
5) Go to Church to be Obedient to God’s Call
This last one is the crux of the issue. God calls us to be part of a church when He said in Hebrews 10:25, “Do not forsake the assembling of the saints.” This is a clear command in Scripture to be part of a local church and to not forsake this call by God. If we are making excuses and clearly not following this call, then it is disobedience. And no Christian wants to be disobedient to their Savior, because disobedience is sin.
God designed the Church to be there not as an evangelism tool but to encourage, equip, exhort, and hold accountable to grow in sanctification in order to do the work of an evangelist.
We should value this institution ordained by God and be obedient to His call.