IS THE LOCAL CHURCH RELEVANT?
Scripture Reference Matthew 16:18
We live in a time of economic and social transformation. We have embraced modern technology that is increasingly isolating people one from another. Growing up as a young boy in the 1950’s and 60’s was a time marked by family involvement. There was a togetherness of family and friends far exceeding anything we experience today.
Today, family travel, picnics, gatherings and dinners have been suppressed with busy schedules, computers, video games and various types of modern technology. It is possible today to live in a household of 5-7 people and still be isolated and have little interaction or communication. Obviously, our technology is not bad. I think we have lost sight of the importance of the family. We need to make people our first priority!
If we live in a society and time where we seem to need less of each other, then how does it affect us as the family of God? There are “new gospels” being preached that encourage people away from the church. The encouragements come under the guise that certain practices such as worship, Bible studies, getting involved, and tithing have ended in the last “dispensation”. Nothing could be further from the truth! I find it interesting that the people preaching these messages encourage you to listen to them and support “their cause.” They are preaching a false gospel, because any gospel that encourages division is directly against God’s Word! If we know God’s Word, we will know God’s perspective on His Church and we will never be led astray by false winds of doctrine.
Recent surveys have found that the largest majority of people who want to be a part of the church are looking for a church that cares about people. What does this mean?
Simply…it means: “acceptance for who I am - encouraging and loving people -and I will not be condemned by people in the church.”
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus made three points about His Church. First, Jesus said the project of building His Church was His, not man’s. Any man or woman who believe they are in charge are in error. God will build His Church and the building and completion of it are not dependent on man. Second, the Church belongs to God and not people. God is the builder, maker and owner. Everything belongs to God, and we as His Body are stewards and co-laborers. Thirdly, the Church will always survive. God is watching over His Church as His prized possession and no new winds of doctrine, teachings or concepts will cause it to divide!
So, the question has never been “how valuable is the Church to God,” it is, “how valuable is God to the Church?”
We cannot value the Church until we value God and His Word.
If we value God, then it will be difficult to treat lightly what He has allowed us to be a part of. Remember, Jesus paid a great cost for you and me. The Father certainly does not take that lightly, and that is why He will guard His Body from being destroyed or divided by false prophets. The Church is the “ecclesia”, which means “called out people.” The building is not the Church, the people are. We use the building as a meeting place to form a large part of His Body in corporate worship. The Word tells us “not to forsake the assembly of the brethren.” We are the Church, the Body of Christ, that meets in local facilities that we call our family and home. The local church provides us the family content where we mature. Trying to grow and mature in Christ apart from the local church would be like a new born baby trying to grow and mature apart from his or her parents and home.
God designed the local church as a place for building family!
-It’s a place where we learn and grow in faith.
-It’s a place where children and young people discover how Jesus fits into their life.
-It’s a place where we as family love and enjoy one another; laugh and cry together.
-It’s a place where babies are dedicated, young couples married, baptized and counseled, prayed with and one day, will go home to be with the Lord.
-It’s a place where the five-fold ministry trains up the body of believers and brings them to maturity.
If we understand this, we will have insight into how important the Church is to God and also to us! God places great value on the local church and in its leaders, because He has created it as a place for families to grow and become healthy.
The apostle Paul valued the local church. In Romans 12:4-13 it reveals to us that it is a place where relationships become healthy. Paul implied that we need the local church for both community and accountability. It’s a place where we find love, acceptance, emotional and spiritual care. The local church is place of involvement and should be a place where people can enjoy freedom of expression in worship and servant-hood. It should be a place that is free of condemnation. Membership in a church is offered as an expression of involvement in God’s local family. God loves His local church body, and we should too! We need one another as the Body of Christ and God desires us to be an expression of Who He is in a world of decreasing values. God wants His Body to grow. Here is our part on earth…” go make disciples.”
Who needs the local church? In God’s eyes…EVERYONE does!
I am wondering, how has your involvement in the Body of Christ at S.C.C. affected your walk with God?
Are there areas we can pray with you or help you take another step of faith? Feel free to email me, I would love to get this conversation started!
I look forward to seeing you on Sunday!
Faith, family, friendship and community are God's plan at Southtowns Christian Center.