I’ve recently heard of several Christians who aren’t involved in a church and don’t believe they need to be. This is no new phenomenon. In Hebrews 10:25, the author says “the habit of some” is to neglect meeting together, and he clearly commands us not to do this.
The church is the body of Christ. If my right hand suddenly decided it didn’t want to be part of my body and just left, how would that affect my body and how long would my hand survive on its own? (Maybe that’s what Thing did in The Addams Family). The church is the household or family of God, which implies our need for relationship.
In Ephesians 2:22, Paul tells the Ephesian believers that God is building them together locally to be a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. How can we be built together with other believers if we’re not part of a church?
Romans 12:5-6 says we are “members one of another” and have all been given gifts to build others up. If we’re not part of a church we deny others the opportunity to be encouraged by our gifts and cut ourselves off from the benefit of others’ gifts.
We need the preaching and teaching of the word of God by pastors and teachers. Paul urged Timothy to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Ti 4:2). Leaders are to equip the saints for the work of ministry through their preaching and teaching (Eph 4:12). If we’re not part of a local church we won’t be taught and equipped for the work of ministry as we should.
Hebrews says we neglect meeting together because of the deceitfulness of sin. To avoid being deceived we should increasingly encourage one another. If we aren’t part of a church we will be more subject to deception.
Peter says believers are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10). Peter says we’re a race, a nation, a people – and together we should proclaim God’s excellencies. Peter would have no category for lone or isolated believers.
If you don’t view being a part of a church as very important can I urge you to consider this verse?
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. (Psalm 16:3).
Maybe you’ve had a bad experience in the church. Maybe you see the deficiencies of Christians. Yet David looked at his fellow believers as “the excellent ones in whom is all my delight.” Your fellow believers aren’t perfected yet, but they are God’s excellent ones. Christ is in them and wants to bless you through them. Can I encourage you to ask God to lead you to a local church where you will find delight in your fellow believers?
Mark Altrogge serves as a pastor at Sovereign Grace Church. Find out more at The Blazing Center.
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Mark Altrogge has been senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, Pennsylvania, since 1982. He has written hundreds of songs for worship, including “I Stand in Awe” and “I’m Forever Grateful.” Mark and his wife, Kristi, have four sons and one daughter.
Find out more on his blog, The Blazing Center.