When I was in college, an older man told me the greatest decision I had to make after becoming a Christian was deciding to which church I would give my life and call home.
Here’s why. Follow the logic with me:
Why did God make the world?
Glory. Habakkuk 2:14
How does God get glory?
His Kingdom coming. Matthew 6:10
How does his Kingdom come?
Through the work and ministry of the local church. Matthew 28:18-20
The local church declares and demonstrates the gospel message (Mark 16:15), and the gospel makes people new (2 Cor. 5:17). So, why is the church so important? Because it is the primary vehicle by which God’s Kingdom comes to earth. But if that is true, some of the ways we view church, admittedly, don’t make sense.
Let me demonstrate this by giving you two common examples.
Open Gym Church
Do you remember middle school P.E.? My favorite day was open gym. It meant all the balls were rolled out, and we could pick what we would play. Sadly, I’m afraid this is how many view church: it’s this weekly event of coming and going as you please and picking the activities that interest you most. The problem is, that’s not what church is. It’s not a community, and more often than not, it doesn’t further the gospel.
Front Porch Church
We have invited you over for dinner and saved you a seat at the table. Instead of knocking on the door and joining us, you stand on the porch and watch us eat together through the window.
I understand that approach if you are new. But if you continually show up Sunday after Sunday only to stand on the porch and watch us eat dinner through the window, that’s weird. People go to jail for that stuff. The front porch is not the church. Sunday is not the church.
A Better View of Church
Church is a big dinner table where we eat together, laugh together, cry together, and worship Jesus together. We have invited you over for dinner. The way you accept the invitation and get involved is by joining a community group. Plug in and become part of the family.
Jesus has saved us from sin, but he has also saved us to the church and for his mission. So, merely coming and going doesn’t make sense. Neither does ogling outside in observation. If you really want to grow, get involved in a group. Circles are better than rows because that is where friends are made and lives are changed. It’s impossible to confess sin, be known, cared for, and pray with the back of someone’s head on Sunday. That stuff happens during the week in a group that is centered on making friends about Jesus.
Corrie Ten Boom once said, “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” The greatest value of community is that when you want to jump, the person next to you reminds you to trust the engineer. Community is not a perfect place full of perfect people. It is a place where broken people mend. This is the church, and you need the church to change.