The gathered church is where heaven comes down to Earth. It’s crucial for our own discipleship and growth, and it’s crucial for the church’s evangelistic witness. We need the church, and the church needs us. Why?
Because the church is where we grow. The Christian life is more than private Bible reading, prayer, and personal acts of service. The New Testament records 59 exhortations to believers to do something with or toward “one another.” We’re called to love one another, serve one another, be devoted to one another, honor one another, instruct one another, carry one another’s burdens, etc.–none of which is possible to do alone, or unto God only.
It is simply impossible to obey what God has said in the Scriptures if we are not a part of a real, local body of other disciples. Exercising these “one another’s” is how God intends to grow and shape us to be more like Christ, both in joy and in difficulty. (I John 4:7-8)
The church is also where our gifts are revealed and put to use. God’s Spirit has distributed various gifts among his people–gifts like hospitality, mercy, healing, preaching, administration, evangelism and others–but no one person has all of them. We need each other to fully deploy the gifts of the Spirit, so that God’s goodness can be displayed, and his good news proclaimed. We need the gifts God has given other Christians, and they need the gifts he has given to us. (I Corinthians 12:15)
Church is more than feeling “filled up” by good music or preaching, or than simply checking off an item on a weekly “to-do” list.
1 Corinthians 12:12-14 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
Video Segment: (03:59 – 04:28) [Travis] “I don’t think you need a church to be a Christian. And if you do, I don’t even think you need to go to church every single weekend to feel God in your life. For some people, going to church is fulfilling…. It’s that one day a week where their life isn’t so crazy. It brings them some type of peace and sanity. Whereas for me, I don’t feel that way. It’s not like I hate church, but it’s like, I don’t feel anything when I go. I don’t feel any more connected to God or anything. I don’t know. It doesn’t fill me up.”
“Christianity is not just about you and Jesus, it’s not an individualistic thing. It’s a people thing, a family thing, a temple thing, a flock thing, a body thing with different parts.” Not Gathering With the Church Hurts You Spiritually, by Jonathan Leeman, The Gospel Coalition, 8.18.21