The Top Six Reasons to Be Part of a Local Church
We had a great team meeting last Sunday night and I’m excited with how our core group continues to grow together in relationship, community, and mission. The big question we explored was, “What Are the Top Five Reasons to Be Part of a Local Church?” In other words, are there any real personal benefits to being a part of a local church or should you just do it out of duty or tradition? This question is especially relevant today with so many people deciding they don’t really need to be a part of a local church to have a relationship with God (true in some respects), they don’t need the local church to grow in their faith (maybe a small amount of truth in that one), or the local church is really unnecessary and an outdated concept (not true at all). Really? Yep, a lot of people believe this today. So are there any benefits to being committed to a local body of believers?
One of the things I mentioned during the meeting is that I have never been the type of person who was satisfied with answers like “because” or “because I told you so” or “because you have to!” I’m always interested in the bigger “why” behind a question or statement. I personally don’t think it is God’s heart, passion, or purpose for us to “go to church” because we feel guilty or out of a sense of obligation. I think he had a much bigger vision for how our lives and the world would be impacted by the church. I truly believe the local church is God’s idea and the primary means he uses to display himself to the world, to care for and equip believers, and to communicate the good news to other people. Here are the top six reasons/benefits I see to being a part of a local church. I know, I slipped one more in.
A chance to regularly encounter God’s presence in corporate worship. The greatest privilege we have in the universe is to know God personally and intimately! We were created for relationship with God. Here is how Blaise Pascal put it, “What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, though none can help, since his infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words God himself.” Jesus affirmed this in John 17:3 when he said, “Now this is eternal life, that they may KNOW you, the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” David shared this desire to KNOW God when he wrote in Psalm 63:1, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” David loved God’s presence. We get to encounter God’s presence in a special way as we come together and worship.
A chance to regularly hear God’s word. God’s word is referred to as truth, light, food/nourishment, strength, a sword. Jesus said this amazing statement in Matthew 4:4, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” As J.I. Packer said in his book Knowing God, “Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction, and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.” I liken not knowing God’s word to not having the instruction manual to a piece of IKEA furniture you are trying to assemble. You might eventually figure it out…but it is so much easier with the instructions. We learn and grow in God’s word as we come together.
A chance to grow and be equipped for all that God has called you to do and be. This truth was never more evident for me than when I arrived at Traders Point Christian Church and had a conversation with Gene Harker, our head elder. I asked him what the vision of the church was and he replied, “it’s really simple Dave. We exist to help people do and be everything Christ has called them to do and be. When you help people flourish you’ll never lack for vision.” It was in the local church that I learned how to be a godly husband, I learned how to be a better father, and I learned how to be a servant-leader. Leaders in the church spoke destiny into my life, encouraged me when I was down, and helped me discover my gifts and calling. In Ephesians 4:11-12 the apostle Paul writes about leaders in the church and their role in equipping believers, “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”
A chance for generational blessing and to see your family have the opportunity to walk with God. Nothing is more important to me than seeing my children walk with God and seeing families blessed. I love what John says in 3 John 4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” Take for example the incredible story of Jonathan Edwards and Max Jukes. Edwards’ loved God and took his children to church and talked about God’s word regularly. His descendants were reviewed over a 150-year period and they found incredible generational blessing. Here is what they discovered: 1 vice-president, 3 senators, 3 governors, 3 mayors, 13 college presidents, 30 judges, 65 professors, 80 public office holders, 100 lawyers, 100 missionaries. His family walked with God for generations. On the other hand, look at the family line of Jukes. He was known to refuse to take his children to church even when they wanted to go and lived a life of hard living. His line was unfortunately marked with brokenness and dysfunction and one particular prison in New York even had 42 inmates directly traced to him. Psalm 78:4 is fitting, “We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders.”
A chance to be a part of an authentic community where we can love and be loved, encourage and be encouraged. We were not meant to live life alone. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” I can’t tell you how important it is to have people standing with you–especially when you go through difficult times.
A chance to be a part of something bigger than ourselves which is God’s BIG redemptive plan in the world. We get to make an eternal difference. I love what the apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:12, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Paul had a purpose for his life and you have purpose for your life. Do you know what it is? The church helps you discover and walk in divine purpose.
This is what we want to be about at Renovate Church Austin and why our mission statement is pretty simple. We want to help people meaningfully ENCOUNTER Jesus Christ, EXPERIENCE genuine biblical community, and be EQUIPPED to EXTEND God’s purposes to others.