should I go to church?
should be connected and involved with a local congregation. The
Christian life was meant to be lived within the context of the family
of God and not in isolation. Hebrews 10 clearly tells us to "consider
how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking
our own assembling 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). It is simply a matter of obedience to the Lord's
command that we meet together with other believers.
It is difficult
to be the kind of Christian that God desires you to be apart from
involvement in a local church. The church must be assembled in order
to carry out many of its functions. These include:
of Spiritual Gifts - The Holy Spirit has bestowed upon each
believer one or more spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12:4-7, 11). The purpose
for these gifts is not personal edification, but the edification
of the body (1 Cor. 4:12, 26). Only within the fellowship of believers
can a Christian's gift be properly exercised and accomplish the
purpose for which it was given.
Ministry - God uses the picture of a body to describe the function
of the local church. In 1 Corinthians 12:18-21 Paul teaches, "But
now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just
as He desired. And if they were all one member, where would the
body be? But now there are many members, but one body. And the eye
cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you'; or again the head
to the feet, 'I have no need of you.'" Each part of the body
of Christ exists to meet the needs of the other parts of the body.
A Christian cannot function alone. The Bible commands us to comfort
one another, build up one another, confess our sins to one another,
pray for one another, love one another, accept one another, admonish
one another, serve one another, forgive one another. Vital fellowship
in a local assembly is essential if we are to obey these commands
and minister within the body of Christ.
- The New Testament repeatedly emphasizes the importance of
being in a local congregation and under the spiritual authority
of church leadership (Heb. 13:17). God has placed leaders in the
church to shepherd believers and look out for their welfare (1 Thess.
5:12-13; 1 Pet. 5:1-5). The apostles often warned that false teachers
would come and try to lead believers astray. Being connected to
a solid church that is committed to sound doctrine will help protect
us from false teaching and the schemes of the devil (2 Tim. 4:1-4;
2 Pet. 2:1; 1 John 4:1).
realize, however, that there is no perfect church. Any local church
is composed of believers in various stages of spiritual growth,
leaders with diverse abilities, as well as unbelievers who attend
out of a feeling of tradition or obligation. When choosing a church,
we must look for a church that is committed to the essential doctrines
of the faith while showing charity in nonessentials. Good biblical
teaching and outreach to the community and the world are also important
elements to a strong church body.
It is doubtful
that a Christian can be under the proper care and authority of a
television preacher or by "hopping" to a different church
each week. Accountability to our spiritual leaders requires that
we know them and they know us. Again, this can only be accomplished
by active involvement in a local assembly of believers. It may even
be difficult to find proper care and accountability in one of today's
"mega-churches." Large churches must make small groups
an important part of their ministry to give people a chance to exercise
their gifts and be involved in intimate fellowship.
worship is not a suggestion, or a matter of personal preference.
It is a command of Scripture and vital for the life of the church
and for the life of each individual believer.
church is for the glory of God. On earth each congregation is
to function as a body that evidences the power and indwelling
of the life of God. Each one is to be seen as a manifestation
of Christ in its locality, living the truth as well as preaching
it. The bulk of instruction and exhortations in Acts and the Epistles
has to do with holiness and honorable interpersonal relationships
in the local church (1 Cor. 11:27). Each congregation is to see
itself as a "body," an organism, and not merely as an
organization... Unless this is understood and made paramount in
the thinking of leaders and members, the local church will fail
as a witness. But when this truth is embraced by faith unto edification,
the community round about will see a witness. The unsaved who
attend its services will come under the conviction of sin (1 Cor.
14:25), and the members will be fed, empowered, and equipped to
properly represent Jesus Christ in their daily pursuits (2 Cor.
3:3; Phil. 2:15)... The redeemedtogether as the Lord's assemblyconstitute
an organism to be treasured. Each believer should be helped to
see what the local assembly means to Christ and should become
most appreciative of the precious privilege of being part of the
local testimony. (see Note)
It is a
great honor for the Christian to stand in God's presence with fellow
believers, to render to Him the praise and adoration that are due
His name. It is both our duty and our privilege.
From an article entitled "The Local Church," Rev. Carlton
Helgerson - Former Pastor of The Church of the Open Bible in Burlington,
MA at http://www.middletownbiblechurch.org/lochurch/lochurch.htm.