Better Together: Why you absolutely need a church family.
Why do more than 2 billion people attend church worldwide? What are the benefits? If someone were to ask us why we go to church, we may have a difficult time thinking of an answer. The church is not a place we go to or an event we attend — it’s a spiritual family. It’s a group of baptized believers who’ve joined together in a commitment to help each other fulfill God’ purposes for their lives.
Something To Talk About:
- The church is God’s family: In biblical terms, the people in the pews around us are our family. Like the members of our biological family, we haven’t chosen them for ourselves, but they have been chosen for us, and we are therefore inseparably bound to them. Because we belong to Christ, we belong to His family. When Paul wanted the Roman church to welcome and help Phoebe, he called her “our sister” (Romans 16:1); when Peter wanted to commend Silvanus, he called him “a faithful brother” (1 Peters 5:12). When the writers in the Bible wanted to address an entire congregation, they frequently called them “brothers and sisters” The people in the pews around us are, in fact, our family. In other words, we are members of God’s family.
- The church is the reason God created the universe: The whole reason God created the universe is because He wanted a family—and that family is the church. His church is the only reason the universe exists. The Bible says, “Long ago, even before he made the world, God chose us to be his very own through what Christ would do for us . . . His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by sending Jesus Christ to die for us” (Ephesians 1:4-5 TLB). Long before God made the world, his unchanging plan has been to accomplish His purposes through the church—not through nations, governments, or corporations. Earthly institutions are temporary, and they’re not big enough to tackle all the global problems. Only the church is big enough. And only the church will last forever.
- The church is God’s agent on earth for His purposes: The local church – God’s agent for mission. The fact that God is a missionary God is the foundation on which everything else rests. Then the way God has chosen to save people is through conscious faith in His Son. God has commissioned us to reach nations with the gospel, and to ensure that God’s purpose will be realized – of drawing to Himself those from every tribe, tongue, nation and people. But we need to define who God has made responsible for this great commission task. God has no need to use “means” in the work of evangelizing the world. That is to say, He could, if He chose, speak directly to people to tell them the gospel himself. However, usually, God has laid the responsibility of mission on His people, and specifically on the local church, the body of Christ.
- Jesus died for His church: If we do not understand Christ’s death as voluntary then we do not understand His death. The church is so significant that Jesus died on the cross for it: “Christ loved the church and gave his life for it” (Ephesians 5:25 GW). Except for a few important exceptions referring to all believers throughout history, almost every time the word “church” is used in the Bible, it refers to a local, visible congregation. Your commitment to a church identifies you as a believer—but it also strengthens you as a believer. When you meet with your church, you gain motivation and encouragement from other believers, and you provide motivation and encouragement to them. Christians need each other to grow. Many people think spiritual growth is a private matter, but God calls believers to live out their faith in community. You can’t develop a deep faith in isolation. “Christ loved the church and gave himself for it… He died so that he could give the church to himself like a bride in all her beauty. He died so that the church could be pure and without fault…” (Ephesians 5:25, 27 (NCV).
- Only the church will last forever: “Glory will belong to God in his church and in Christ Jesus for all time and eternity!” (Ephesians 3:21 GW). The Bible says in Ephesians 3:21, “To God be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever! Amen” (GNT). God’s family is the only thing that’s going to last for eternity? A thousand years from today, there won’t be any of the things we’re used to today. But there will still be the family of God. When everything else is gone, God’s church will remain. If God’s family is the only thing that will last forever, don’t you want to join it? Being part of God’s family, the church, has all kinds of benefits. A local church will love you and help you grow in biblical truth and knowledge. It’s a place where you can share your talents, and benefit from the abilities of others.
- Only the church will win against evil: Why is there so much evil in the world? Why doesn’t God raise His almighty hand against war, against abuse, against poverty, against criminals, or against any evil corrupting the world and our lives? It’s a familiar question. The answer is, He does. He wants to overcome evil through the bride the Church. We are commissioned to continue the work He began. Not alone, though. We fail when we try to do it alone or with too few others. How would things change if church worked together to work on and resolve the problems facing the world today. In Matthew 5:44-45 Jesus urges his disciples: “But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.The lesson of scripture is that God loves our enemies, so the church calls on Christians not merely to love those who love them but to love as God loves. Paul urges the Christians in Rome: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans. 12:21)
- Only the church is big enough to solve global problems: The world is filled with problems—disease, pollution, poverty, war, terrorism, crime, hunger, political upheaval and much more. We believe that when the church is mobilized to achieve its full potential, it has the power to change our world. We believe this because:(1) The local church is God’s plan to reveal His mercy, compassion and truth to people around the world. The local church is the largest social network on the planet and has the ability to do far more than any government institution or non-profit organization could. The local church has the influence and moral authority to shape behaviors rooted in biblical values of love, compassion and justice. The local church offers the greatest hope of reconciliation and unity between people under a common identity in Christ. The local church can restore dignity and bring hope to the suffering, forgotten and marginalized by reaching out to the most vulnerable in its community.
- Why do you go to church? Do you experience Church as a building you go to or an event you attend, or do you really experience it as a spiritual family?
- Do you feel that it is important to have a spiritual family? If yes, why is it important to you?
- What insightful wisdom have you gained from attending church? Do you still feel that being part of a church is a privilege or has it become just another thing that you do?
- How is the church a place that helps people find a way to make a difference in the world?
- How can the church make it easier for you to adjust your focus away from the world’s problems and on the blessings of Christ?
- How does it make you feel to know that God thought of you first, even before He created the universe?
- In what ways is God using you to accomplish His purposes through the church?
- How has God’s love motivated you to serve others?
- God’s family is the only thing that will last forever. How do your priorities line up with that reality?
- In what way has church been just a place you “go to” instead of a place you “belong to”?
Take One Thing Home with You:
Belonging to the church is a privilege: When as an individual you understand the nature of the body of Christ, we need to understand who we are and where we fit. As a member of the body of Christ, we do belong somewhere. When God’s grace has transformed us, we should find that it matters increasingly to us that we have been called into relationship with one another—into community. We’re diverse in the gifts that have been given; none of us can make up the body individually but only together. Each of us belongs to one another. We gather as church, then, in order to give of ourselves both to each other and, ultimately, to our Lord. Church is not a place for you merely to show up at and attend. It is a body. It is our family. We need your church; and the church needs us. The bottom line is belonging to the church is a privilege.