- Missions & Evangelism – You need to be a part of the local church for the purpose of missions and evangelism. Matthew 18:18-20 has clearly mandated that all Christians need to be involved in evangelism and missions. However, this task was never intended to happen apart from the local church. With respect to missions in the New Testament the local church is always the one identifying and sending out missionaries. This was the case even the with apostle Paul (Acts 13:1-4). Practically speaking, missions would be impossible without the local church. With respect to evangelism the church is indispensible. Individually we are responsible to share the gospel messages, but God also intends for evangelism to be corporate endeavor. 1 Peter 2:9-10 describes how this works, and shows us that the Church declares the gospel be existing as a called out separate group of people. Additionally, John 13:34 tells us that our love for one another is how the world will know who Jesus is. This corporate testimony is a part of God’s plan, and if you are not a part of the local church then you are not a part of this corporate testimony.
- Discipleship – You need to be a part of the local church for the purpose of discipleship. This is closely related to evangelism and missions because our responsibility as Christians goes beyond simply sharing the gospel message with others. Our responsibility, as it is outline in Matthew 28:18-20, is to make disciples. The church is where this happens. If you are not a part of the church, then who is going to disciple you and who are you going to disciple? Remember, sanctification cannot occur apart from the local church, which means that you cannot possibly be a part of meaningful discipleship apart from the local church.
- The One Anothers – You need to be a part of the local church because of the “one anothers.” All throughout scripture we are instructed on how we are to treat “one anothers.” These one another certainly have implications for how we treat unbelievers, however they are mainly directed at how we treat fellow believers. With this in mind, I would submit to you that you cannot live out the “one anothers” apart from the local church. Let me give you a few examples: Romans 14:13 (notice it speaks of a “brother”), 1 Corinthians 12:25, Ephesians 4:25, 1 Thessalonians 3:12 (Paul distinguishes between “one another” and unbelievers), Hebrews 10:24-25.
- The Truth (the church is the defender of truth) – You need to be a part of the local church for the sake of truth. The local church is where God’s word is proclaimed, and it is where the truth of God is defended and upheld. You need to be a part of this for two reasons: You need to be sitting under God’s word preached by gifted men (Ephesians 4:11-12). 1 Timothy 3:15 says that the church is the pillar and support of truth. It is the church’s job to defend and uphold the truth. This means that you need to a part of this, but it also means that when you are a part of the local church you have more protection from error.
- Your family – You need the local to be a part of the local church for the sake of your family. Ephesians 6:4 says that fathers are to raise their children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” This certainly has a lot to do with what goes on in the home, however this cannot be accomplished apart from the local church. Even if you don’t have a family yet it is important for you to spiritually discipline yourself by being a part of the church so that when you do have a family you can shepherd them in the discipline of the Lord.
- The Glory of God – The final reason that you need to be a part of the local church is for the Glory of God. Really this final reason encompasses all the other reasons. For all of the reasons that we have just talked about God is glorified when you, as a Christian, are a part of the local church.
Ultimately, because the church is the body of Christ, separation from the church is separation from God. This, along with the reasons we have looked at, shows us how important it is for us to be an active and committed part of the local church. These benefits from the local church require more than just showing up. To fully benefit from the local church we need to be committed members. This is what we will look at next time.