Families today “do church” in a variety of ways. Some attend traditional churches while others meet in small home group settings. Still others worship with just their nuclear families in their own home in what has come to be known as the “home church” movement. These families read and study the Bible and pray together each week in the comfort of their own living rooms for a variety of reasons. Some have been turned off by the traditional setting of church, some see the church as being full of hypocrites and others want to teach their children their own variety of religion, undiluted by the doctrine taught in particular churches. Sometimes this “home church” method works well and other times families eventually fall into skipping their worship time and just using that day for relaxation or recreation. So, is it really important to go through the hassle of packing the kids off to church each week? And if so…why?
Well, that is a good question. There is certainly a place for Bible reading and family prayer time in our homes…of that there is no doubt. But I believe that local churches enrich our lives in some very important ways and that it is scriptural to be a part of a local body of believers uniting with others in corporate worship and fellowship.
When we become a part of a local church we are:
Educated in the ways of the Lord.
Through the preaching of the Word we can learn about God’s plan for mankind, his purpose for our lives, and how to navigate life with joy and peace. We can learn the story of Jesus Christ from his birth in Bethlehem to his death on the cross and what that means for you and I. And if you are looking for deeper study in a small group setting, most churches offer this, as well.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Colossians 3:16 (KJV)
Enlisted in the workforce of the kingdom of God.
When we become a part of a church, we can discover our spiritual gifts and how we can use them in the body of Christ (the church) to further the kingdom. This will inevitably bring joy, fulfillment and a sense of purpose to our lives. You see, you have a vital role to play in the church and if you are absent, it is as if a part of the body is missing, and therefore can’t function properly or complete it’s work. Maybe you are a person who loves to serve and could help on the “set up” team for Sunday mornings or the kitchen committee, or maybe you are gifted with mercy and would enjoy ministering to the elderly and the sick. Perhaps you are great at organization and are at ease in front of a group. You might want to head up the ladies ministry at the church. There is much to be done and there is a place for you.
“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free- and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 (NKJV)
Enveloped in the loving arms of fellow believers.
As we walk through the hills and valleys of life, we need people to walk alongside us for support and encouragement. The church is a wonderful place to develop those nurturing and caring relationships. Sometimes our own families are not as supportive as we would like them to be in times of crisis (They can get kind of tired of us!), or they don’t live in close proximity to us. When that happens, your “church” family can stand in the gap, providing practical support and prayerful intervention. Many people find that over the years, their fellow church members become their best friends. That has certainly been the case with our family.
“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.” Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV)
Equipped to share the good news of the gospel with others.
At church you can learn how to best share the gospel with others in your neighborhood and around the world. There are opportunities to go and tell your story of what Jesus has done for you! There are opportunities for short term mission trips to countries around the world where you can serve orphans, the elderly and the impoverished. As believers, we are commanded to share the good news of Jesus Christ with others. This important command in the book of Matthew says:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
What do you think? Is it important for you and your family to be a part of a local church? Do you “home church” and think I am totally off base? Let me know your thoughts.