Do We need Church?
I have seen many believers walk away from Church for many different reasons. Some have been hurt by abuses, others simply don’t want to submit to anyone. They say things like “Church isn’t a building” or “I am the Church.” Those statements are true in the right context, they are actually contradictory when used as an excuse to avoid Church.
It’s important to realize that Church is not a man made invention but God’s idea. Though there are no clear examples of how a service should be conducted, there are clear examples of a gathering together (1 Cor. 14:23) and an established leadership of pastors, teachers, deacons, elders, etc. (1 Timothy 3, James 5:14). Those in leadership are charged with and responsible to watch over the souls of believers in the Church (Hebrews 13:17) and are held to a greater accountability to God (James 3:1). The bible tells us to not forsake this gathering but continue in it (Hebrews 10:25).
The word Church in the Greek is Ekklesia, which means an assembly or a gathering of people called out for a purpose. The Church is an assembly of believers, called out of the world, and gathered together for the purpose of worshiping God and making Him known to the world. The bible also uses Church in a universal term referring to all who have been saved and redeemed.
All through the book of acts, you see the Church being the primary agent of change to the world. Individuals who caused massive change in the world such as Paul, Barnabas, Etc. were sent out and commissioned by the Church through the leading of the Spirit (Acts 13:2) and they always worked in the context of the Church by establishing churches and/or partnering with churches already planted (1 Cor. 3:6). The Church was key in organizing to prepare for a coming famine and sending aid (Acts 11:39). It was also seen providing the basic needs of the community (Acts 5:6). The Church was vital in the spread of God’s Kingdom and still is to this day. In Ephesians 4:11-12 we see that the 5-fold ministry roles were to equip believers for the work of ministry. This reveals that Believers would gather in Churches to be equipped to follow God and reveal Him to the world.
In the bible there are many metaphors describing the Church. The Church is the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, the temple of God, ect. One thing important to realize is that the Church is not one person, and one person alone cannot claim to be the Church.
We all make up the body of Christ and are members of each other. If my pinky finger was cut off my hand and you wouldn’t point at my pinky saying, look there is his body. That would be some what true because my pinky is a part of my body but the pinky by it’s self is not my body. The word body points to all parts together as a whole. You cannot be independent from the body of Christ and function as the body of Christ. If the Church is the body of Christ, the way Jesus touches the world is through His body. A decapitated finger, will have little effect on the world around it, but a finger functioning with a hand, with the arm, with the shoulder, can make a huge impact the world around it.
We are the temple of God, individually yes, but also corporately. Individually we house the presence of God in our bodies, That is a profound reality, but there is another side where we are also being built together into a temple. What is a temple? It’s a place of worship, a place people go to meet God. According to Ephesians 2:19-21 each one of us is a piece of the temple and we are being built together to make Him a glorious temple. When we come together in unity to worship God and celebrate Him we are actually creating a space for the glory of God to dwell.
God's heart for unity among believers is seen clearly in John 17:20-26. Jesus prays that as He is one with the Father, we would be one with Him and with each other. This unity only comes from being joined together by the same Spirit and being lead by the same mind, His mind (1 Cor 12:13, 1 Cor. 2:13-16). Jesus also reveals in his prayer that through our oneness, the glory that God had given to Him, He is given to us. God giving the Church His glory shows that when we come together as one, we become the dwelling place of His glory and presence, and the revelation of His goodness to the world around us (Exodus 33). When the world sees the Church in the context of Jesus’ prayer, Believers together as one, carrying the manifest glory of God, the world will believe that the Father sent Jesus into the world.
If your a believer and are not connected to a local Church, I encourage you please pray and ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to one. The body functions much better with all it’s members. You are an integral part of His body and you are precious and valuable. If you have been hurt in the past by leaders, pastors, or people who should have represented Jesus well, I apologize on behalf of the church, and ask that you would seek the Lord for a church that would accept you, love you, and help you grow in a greater maturity in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Ephesians 4:16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
- Joshua Shaw