A Case for the Local Church

2537_largeA few years ago, I was having a conversation with a friend about church. We were discussing its importance. “Honestly,” he said, “I wonder if my time Sunday morning would be better spent serving the homeless down at the city park.”

I understood where he was coming from. Sometimes Sunday morning (or Saturday night) church can feel a little arbitrary as we gather in pews to sing some familiar Christian songs and listen to a sermon. Sometimes it may even feel like a consumer activity. In that sense, my friend’s question was valid. If you’re not engaging with the church in the way God intended, it is probably of little value in your life.

In today’s featured article, “Love the Church,” Courtney Reissig makes a case for being involved in the local Body of Christ. She talks about her own experiences with those who seem to be attracted to the more gritty forms of serving Jesus while avoiding the local church. She writes:

“I began to notice a disconnect between the desire to ‘do something for Jesus’ and commitment to the local church. Many friends of mine were all about going on a missions trip, helping the homeless or sponsoring a Compassion child (which are all really, really good things), but often they were apathetic to the local church. If they were even regular attenders somewhere on a Sunday morning, their commitment to the church was limited to the late service usually filled with college students.”

Reissig points out that serving Jesus and being connected to the church are nonexclusive:

“The local church actually provides the necessary safety net that all of us, especially vulnerable college students and young adults, need. It is within the local church that we not only hear the Word of God preached, but see it applied in our daily lives. It is here that we are given the tools for ministry, the resources to serve, and the fellowship and support that we all desperately need as we walk through this Christian life.”

And if you’re questioning our Lord’s feelings on the church, you only have to take a look at the New Testament.

“Jesus, and His messengers, cared a lot about the establishment and continued growth of the local church. God never intended for us to be lone rangers. Even Paul, the greatest of all apostles, most often traveled with another believer, and he always was about strengthening local churches.”

The urge to “do big things for Jesus” is a good one, but the example of early Christians along with the truthful words of Scripture emphasize that ministry must be fueled by a love for Jesus and a love for His bride, the church.

“He has big plans for you that do not start first with your exotic missions trip or urban ministry. Jesus’ mission for your life is first and foremost to make you holy, and one of the primary ways He accomplishes this mission is through the local church. Our ministry to this lost and dying world should never be divorced from the church — and more importantly, the local congregation that you belong to.”

So serve the homeless. Go on a missions trip. Sponsor a child in poverty. But love the church, too. Jesus does.