This week I'm going to pose some arguments that you may not have considered about the value of going to, giving to, working with and staying at a single local church... faithfully. It doesn't mean that there aren't situations where life doesn't allow for this, but (even though we don't like to think of ourselves this way) most of us are the norm as opposed to the exception to the rule. That's what "exception" means :)
A number of years ago, Christian stat guru George Barna painted a picture of what he believed to be the coming "Revolution" in "The Church". It was a picture of people living out Hebrews 10:24-25
"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching"
Barna saw people getting together on the golf course, at coffee dates, and in living rooms to encourage each based on preference of hobbies. He predicted the looming death of the traditional local church in favor of a grassroots, organic, and increasingly vibrant movement of believers.
Many took this as a sign that the "institutional" church was dead. The reality is that even if this statistical prophesy fully came to pass... the same values, traditions, instructions given by a Jesus/Paul combo in the New Testament would be present and would require the same detail to governance that our current churches do... only in a living rooms instead of pews. It would be otherwise very irresponsible and against much of the New Testament teaching of "Togetherness"
The same problems would need to be solved. The same principles would need to be ensured. The same human fights that happen when any time 2 humans get in a room together (that Paul taught about how to deal with so we can grow) would need to be dealt with. The same God is lifted up and thus, the same Great Commission to go and reach the world and multiply, will rise up in those who fall in love with The Lord. All that gets messy. Welcome to The Church.
Many genuine Christians who leave the church to get a break from some of it's more taxing trappings invariably get that "I've got to get back to the church" feeling at some point. Some do... some don't. Those who don't... sometimes bad things happen. We often, while doing street ministry, ask the question, "What's your church background?" It doesn't take long to hit emotion. There is something that keeps drawing men back to the idea of "The Church". Watch people's eyes when a stirring Amazing Grace is sung in public. Waterworks. Why? Because they remember being in a little church, worshiping with God's people, feeling His presence.
As much as we've tried to argue "The Church" away... we cannot because it is part of God's plan. We ARE to gather to worship together. We ARE to take care of each other in a community. We ARE to collectively (not individually) work to transform our city together. The life instructions to the Biblical Christian is in the context of TOGETHER... not alone.
So this week, I want to dialogue about something that is hard for our culture. The Local Church and it's importance. Not just for others. For you and me. I want to talk about why we should consider:
- Regularly actually GOING TO it in an increasingly busy world.
- Regularly actually GIVING TO to it when our money is in high demand
- Regularly actually WORKING WITH it even though we have "real jobs"
- And STAYING and committing our life, ministry and family to a single local church even though there are many great churches, ministries, and golf courses in town