The Church is anyone who has been saved by God. We are the church.
If we say, “We don’t need the church,” we’re actually saying, “We don’t need any other Christians, and we don’t need to be Christians ourselves.”
We are God’s family. Being a part of this family helps us live out the Christian life. We need each other because without each other, there’s no family. Without supporting each other in love, we will fall apart. God made us to live with him together. If we don’t live in community with others, we won’t live at all.
Like the coal removed from the fire, if we’re alone, our fire will fade. But if we’re around other Christians whose hearts are passionately on fire, our flame will grow brighter.
The Bible also tells us not to neglect meeting together. If you don’t meet regularly with other believers to read the Bible, pray, and encourage each other to live the Christian life, you will eventually fall away from God. Being with other Christians in this way helps us grow; it also encourages and excites us. It pulls us out of our natural selfish nature.
We don’t just meet with each other because we have to. We meet with each other because it’s a gift to be together. It doesn’t mean we have to meet in our Christian friends’ homes, even though that’s beautiful and important. We need more than that.
What, exactly, do we need?
We need loving friends, personal accountability, solid teaching, Biblical authority, and opportunities to lead others closer to Christ.
We need to live under the authority of pastors and elders who have been given their positions after proving their faithfulness in their lifestyles and really growing to know God and his Word. If we are not under the authority of qualified teachers who live out what they preach, our beliefs about God can change into something God never intended.
Most people don’t like other people holding them accountable to live a certain way. It’s uncomfortable to have our lives examined and to be told we’re messing up and need to change. But if we aren’t held accountable, our mistakes will build up until they explode and harm people.
By being part of a church, under qualified teachers who look like what’s presented in the Bible, we keep ourselves accountable.
The authority of qualified teachers also protects us from people who want to abuse others. It gives us people we can go to for help if we’ve been mistreated. Often we need someone to back us up.
Finally, it gives us a structure for community where we can find a way to help bring others closer to Christ. We can’t forget that after God changes our lives, he tells us to teach others about him too.
It’s easy to evangelize in an unstructured setting, but discipling people is a long-term commitment. We should always disciple people while submitting ourselves to the authority of pastors and elders who can keep us from leading people wrongly, or hurting people we’re trying to help.
How do you find a faith community? First, ask God to help you. Then ask around. Notice people who are living pure, loving lives, and find out where they attend church. Start visiting churches. Look for a church where the people are welcoming, genuine, and loving. Find pastors and elders who believe in what the Bible plainly teaches, and don’t doubt what the Bible says. Make sure they also live out what they say they believe. Otherwise, they don’t really believe it.
Whatever church you go to, do the people love and serve each other? Do they love the Bible and help each other live their faith in practical, real ways that you can feel and see? No one will be perfect! But you can tell the difference between people who don’t care whether their life is consistent, and people who regret their mistakes.
Just ask yourself this question: Is God being worshipped and honored there?
There is no perfect church community, just like there are no perfect people. Just find a decent church, go consistently, and don’t complain. Be the change you want to see. Look for opportunities to encourage your family in Christ. Love people genuinely! Serve out of your love with a pure heart. Not as an attempt to be considered “good” by other people.
Recognize that we’re human, and that we need each other. You never know, the person who irritates you just might be someone God put into your life to help you grow. And you might have just been put into their life to gently help them grow in Christ. Live peacefully, and honor God together. That’s the church.
Find a church and attend it this upcoming Sunday. Write down your thoughts about the experience, and how it impacted you emotionally, spiritually, and physically.