Why Do You Need the Church?
Is it possible to be a Christian without going to church? You betcha. Attending church doesn't make you a Christian any more than attending a sporting event makes you an athlete. But is it wise to try to live out your Christian faith without being a part of a church body? No way!
The truth is, you don't need the church in order to be a Christian, but you do need the church.
The Bible gives us many reasons why being a part of a body of believers (a.k.a. church) is critical to our walk as Christians. Take a look.
The church is God's idea.
Jesus first mentions the church in Matthew 16:17–19. Speaking to Simon Peter He says, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
Jesus knew what was coming. He knew that His death was eminent and that He needed a way to continue to build His ministry and spread His truth. Through the apostles He established the church.
Jesus is the builder of the church. He has a plan for her and has given her great power (see verse 18). The idea of church wasn't crafted by man but carefully planned for by Jesus Himself.
The church is the foundation of truth.
In 1 Timothy 3:15 the church is referred to as "the pillar and foundation of the truth." God knows that serving Him is rarely easy, and He's given us the church as a place where we can build the foundation for our faith. The church is also designed to be the pillar that holds our faith up, that strengthens and supports it.
The church also serves as the beacon of truth to a world that does not know Jesus. I picture the church like the Olympic torch runner. For centuries God has used the church to spread truth to unbelievers around the world. Over and over He has used the church to point the lost toward truth and to help them build a solid foundation grounded in His Word.
When your faith is weak, when truth is hard to decipher, when living out your faith feels impossible to do alone, or when you need partners in completing the call to point others toward Jesus, you can trust the church to be the pillar and foundation of God's truth.
The church is a place of prayer.
In Acts 12:5 we find the church earnestly praying for Peter in prison. The result was a miraculous escape. In James 5:14 we are encouraged to call upon the elders of our own churches when we are sick and in need of healing. Historically, the prayer efforts of the collective body of Christ have resulted in powerful moves of God.
You certainly can pray for yourself and your own needs, but there is real power in the combined prayer efforts of believers. The church provides the unique opportunity for you to join with others in prayer and seek the prayers of others on your behalf.
The church is a place where God is blessing.
Psalm 84: verses 1 and 4 says, "How lovely is your dwelling place, O LORD Almighty!…Blessed are those who dwell in your house, they are ever praising you."
Our churches are the dwelling place of God. These passages remind us of the blessing of being in God's presence. Can God be found outside the walls of the church? Sure. But because the church is God's plan and because of His great love and purpose for the church, it is a place where He is regularly on the move.
The church is a place of encouragement.
Hebrews 10:25 warns not to give up on church.
"Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
The church is a place of encouragement. Through our churches we can be encouraged to know God better and to follow Him more closely. That encouragement is so vital as we seek to follow Christ despite the challenges and struggles of life.
What do you think? Do we need the church? What other reasons would you give for being a committed member of a church family?