Why Church?

Where does the notion come from that a professing Christian (also healthy and able) does not need to participate in a local church?

The gospel of Matthew states that Jesus himself established the New Testament Church. Matthew 16:18 – And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

At the very beginning of the Acts of the Apostles, we find the story of that establishment on the day of Pentecost. The Church of God at Jerusalem (I use a naming convention found in the new testament but i’m not endorsing any denomination) was begun! Documented in the opening chapters of the book of Acts, we find that Preaching, Teaching, Sacraments, and Fellowship are key components of life in the church.

Acts goes on to tell us about the spread of the church throughout Judaea and Samaria (modern day Jordan). The latter part of Acts documents the spread of the Gospel and founding of churches throughout Asia Minor (modern day Turkey), North Africa (the Ethiopian Eunuch), Greece, and Italy by the Apostle Paul and his assistants.

The bulk of the New Testament consist of letters from the Apostles, especially the Apostle Paul, to the congregations or churches in cities and communities across these areas. These letters contain multiple examples and instructions on the organization and conduct of the church.

Organization example:
Ephesians 4:11 – And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Conduct example:

1 Corinthians 14:12 – Since you are so eager to have spiritual gifts, ask God for those that will be of real help to the whole church.

A great example is the book of Timothy, letters from Paul to a young Pastor named Timothy. According to tradition, Timothy was the first bishop of the Church at Ephesus.

1 Timothy 3:15 – …so that if I can’t come for a while, you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and support of the truth.

Finally, in the Revelation of Jesus to his servants, we find the letters from the resurrected Jesus to the representative 7 churches in Asia with instructions, admonitions and encouragements and this final statement:

Revelation 22:16 – I Jesus have sent my angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

In the New Testament, God characterizes becoming a christian as entering into a marriage with Christ (Ephesians 5, Revelation 19). One might say, “I believe in God and want to be baptized, but I don’t want to go to church”… that would be like a man saying to his bride, “I love you; I want to marry you – but I don’t want to live with you”. It’s saying you want the benefits of marriage but not the relationship that goes with it. Part of the Christian experience is having a relationship with fellow believers.

And therein lies the answer to the question I think: Relationships are not easy. They require work, sacrifice, discomfort, and sometimes pain. But most folks that have endured these relationship difficulties can also tell you of the flip-side, corresponding rewards… refreshment, praise, blessing, and love that also comes from a committed relationship!

So Christians, I challenge you. The Church of Jesus Christ needs you like never before. Come back to us. We need your spiritual gifts, your God given talents,  your praise and worship and your presence. Whatever it was that drove you away or is keeping you away… let it go, forgive. Pray that the Lord will lead you to the church where He has placed HIS name so you may participate with us in all that the Lord has in store for His Church through Christ Jesus.

2 Peter 1:4 – Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world…

Come and partake with us!