You believe in God, but you don’t think you need to go to church. Or you attend church, but you do not see any need to become a member of one. If so, there are increasing numbers of people who think the same way you do. But is this a good trend? Take a moment to examine it with me…
In this article I won’t be discussing the issue of what a good church is and isn’t, though I do cover that in the book I mention at the end. Here I simply want to suggest some reasons why you need a good one—especially if you believe in God.
According to the Bible, which repeatedly claims to be the Word of God to us, the church is God’s idea. It is not merely a human invention, like clubs, sports teams, support groups, and other attempts we make at developing community among us. In Old Testament times, God called a group of people out of the rest of the world to be His worshippers and servants (the people of Israel), and when Jesus came He told His disciples, “I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18). He then proceeded to organize this assembly of believers (the meaning of the word “church”) by giving instructions about its administration through His appointed spokesmen, the apostles (see 1 Tim. 3, 1 Cor. 11, etc.). These directions included such topics as how people could become members of the church, how they should worship God when they came together, how to meet the financial needs of members, and perhaps most importantly, what kind of person should be a church leader and what those leaders should do.
That issue of leadership, which the Bible addresses repeatedly, is one of the most important reasons for not only attending a good church, but also making a commitment to membership in one. Take just one verse, for example: Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
The idea of “authority” in the spiritual realm may seem strange to you, or perhaps it conjures up images of witch trials and mass suicides by unquestioning, mindless followers. But notice that God says that true spiritual authority (in the church He has established) is something that is good for you, and even something that is necessary for your spiritual health. After all, the definition of spiritual sickness would have to be disobeying God’s commands, which He has given us for our good—and this is a command God has given us! We all need mature, loving leaders who can “keep watch” over us through their teaching, counsel, and accountability, if our goal is to become more spiritually mature ourselves.
In this short article I have said nothing about the helpful relationships we can develop in a good church, the needs that can be met, and the desires that can be fulfilled when we become members of what the Bible calls “the family of God” (1 Tim. 3:15). To learn about those benefits and more, please take a look at a book I co-authored, Life in the Father’s House: A Member’s Guide to the Local Church. You can order a copy here.