There is a trend, especially among younger generations, of people who are saying goodbye to the local church. We’ve heard statistics of those who leave because they no longer believe. But, surprisingly, others leave because they say they want more of God in their lives and the church just isn’t doing it for them.
The wisdom of God says that we need the local church. Here are some reasons why.
1. The Church Is Jesus’ Bride
Tony Campolo said, “…you dare not decide that you don’t need the church. Christ’s church is his bride…and his love for her makes him faithful to her even when she is not faithful to him.”
The Church was God’s idea, God’s plan for His Kingdom on earth. As St. Cyprian said, “One cannot have God as his Father who does not have the church as his Mother,” and as Saint Augustine once said, “The church may be a whore, but she is still my mother.”
2. The Church Is A Family
Family is the chief metaphor the Bible uses when it talks about the Church.
The Church isn’t an exclusive, monolithic club. It’s a gathering of wonderfully and sometimes irritatingly diverse, divinely-selected brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, grandmas and grandpas. A dysfunctional family at times indeed, but a family nonetheless.
Family stays together. When one member is weak, the others lift her up. Where another is difficult, the others confront him. Where another is leading on mission, the others join, support, pray, and cheer him on.
3. The Church Is A Diverse Community
By design, God chose the Church to be as diverse as possible.
We want to celebrate and learn from differences instead of dividing over them. We believe the best expressions of community happen when people come together with varying perspectives, personalities, cultures, and experiences.
4. The Church Teaches Us To Love
Part of the Christian experience is learning to love people who are not like us. In the Church, we are given a community of complicated, beloved-by-God, always in process, fearfully and wonderfully made, sometimes faltering and inefficient people we are called to love.
Reconciliation, peacemaking, relational perseverance, and loving the unlovely are difficult but necessary steps of discipleship. Without these things, we remain stunted in our spiritual growth.
Our goal in Christian community is not just tolerance of others, but authentic love and relationship. In order to learn to truly love, we must stay in the Christian community and do the hard work of resolving conflict and building unity.
5. The Church Needs You
As it is a family, the Church is also a body. Without you, the Church is missing an eye or an ear or a hand. Without you, the church is not whole.
Each of us is made in the image of God. As we live in community with one another, we grow in knowledge and experience of God by being with others who bear his image. As we learn from and rub off on one another we become better, more whole, more Christ-like, and ultimately better-for-the-world versions of ourselves.
If you are dissatisfied or disillusioned with the local church, don’t leave it. If the church stinks to you, then change its diapers. Make it better. Pray for it. Bless it. Serve it. Love it to life.
In the process, you will discover that it’s not only that the church needs you. You need the church as well.
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