For the first-time in the history of our nation those who attend church regularly are in the minority, and any cultural pressure people may have previously felt to attend church has been lifted. Along with this, the Christian culture has seen a revived emphasis on the church being a group people that God flows through rather than a building you go to. This is true and a much needed correction from the days when people were guilted into being at church every time the doors were open, often to the point of neglecting their family.
But, as with any correction there’s always the danger of over correction, and that’s what’s been happening with a large segment of people who consider themselves Christians, but see no need and have no desire to attend a local church. They say they love Jesus but hate the church; but it doesn’t work like that. You can love the groom and hate the bride, but chances are you don’t get invited to the wedding.
The Local Church is Not Dead
The local church is very much alive and well, and I say that not because I’m a pastor—but because I’m a Christian who has experienced the restlessness of not being planted in a local church.
My first semester of Bible college, for the first time in my life, I bounced around from church to church trying to find one that fit. Those four months were some of the driest times for me spiritually even though I was immersed in Bible knowledge more than ever before. At the beginning of the next semester I heard the Lord clearly tell me, “Plant yourself in a church and start serving.” Reluctantly, that’s what I did, and not surprisingly the dryness faded away, and that choice would lead me to my first pastoral staff position and so much more.
3 reasons to get involved in a local church
There are so many reasons to plant yourself in a local church, but let me give you just three.
- The Bible instructs us to do so (Hebrews 10:25). I realize the Bible doesn’t carry much weight in our culture any more, but to someone who claims to follow Jesus it should be your number one authority and I should be able to end this post right here. In fact, the author of Hebrews encourages us to assemble together even more often as we see the "day of his return is drawing near."
- It’s good for your health. Seriously! There have been numerous studies that have shown regular church attendance leads to happier, longer lives with the most recent being last month from the London School of Economics and Political Science which shows that regular church attendance is more beneficial for long term mental health than charity work, sport, or education. The lead researcher said:
“The church appears to play a very important social role in keeping depression at bay and also as a coping mechanism during periods of illness in later life. It is not clear to us how much this is about religion per se, or whether it may be about the sense of belonging and not being socially isolated,”
It shouldn’t be surprising that regularly being in an atmosphere of faith, worshipping a God who declares “I am the God that heals you,” leads to health and joy.
- Your church needs you! You may think that you don’t have much to give, but I promise you God thinks otherwise. In addition to being compared to a bride, Scripture compares the church to a body with each member having an important part to play for it to function properly. God’s put unique giftings in you that your church needs to be complete.
And not only does your church need your unique gift, you need to use that gift to be spiritually healthy. Not only is a liver not useful outside of a body, if that liver stays disconnected from a body for too long the liver itself will die. That’s why organs for transplants get rushed from one place to another via helicopter or plane with time being of the essence, because the longer that part is not functioning in a body the more unhealthy it becomes up to the point it dies and becomes useless.
Are you planted? If not, why not? I encourage you to plant yourself in a local church that’s teaching the Word of God and experiencing the presence of God on a regular basis.