Many people are asking this question: Why bother joining a church? What is the big deal about church? Isn’t the church just a dying institution irrelevant to the world today? Although many people question the importance of church and the importance of being a member of the church, the Bible tells us that the Church is the people of God on mission to transform the world through the Gospel (1 Pt 2:9). The church is the vehicle for displaying God’s glory to the ends of the earth. Therefore the church is hugely important in God’s plan for redeeming the world through his son Jesus Christ. Jesus tells us that the church will endure and survive as the uniquely blessed people of God and that the “gates of hell will not prevail against it”. (Mat 16:18)
The Foundation of the Church
“As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”” (1 Peter 2:4–6, ESV)
“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28, ESV)
The Church was founded and established by Jesus Christ. Yet, we see that from the beginning of the Old Testament God had a grand plan to spread his glory through a corporate people. The first fruits of this cosmic plan was through Israel. As we move into the New Testament we see that God plans to create a new kingdom and a new humanity from people of every ethnicity and nation. The way that God created these new citizens of the heavenly kingdom was through the death of His son Jesus Christ. The cornerstone and foundation for the church is and always will be Jesus Christ.
Jesus the Cornerstone
The Bible makes it clear why Jesus came. Jesus who was fully man and fully God came for the purpose of redeeming humanity. Jesus lived a life of complete perfection, without sin and without disobedience. Where you and I fail every day, Jesus succeeded. As a result, Jesus could be the only sacrifice who could pay the price for our sin. Every human being has fallen short and has rebelled against the Almighty God (Rom 3:23). We are hopelessly lost in our sin, yet God was gracious in sending Jesus to us. Jesus, out of love for us, went to the cross and was nailed to that tree for you and me. On the cross Jesus purchased our salvation and our freedom from the bondage of sin. On the cross Jesus purchased our entry way into this new community and new humanity. In Jesus we have been given citizenship into the kingdom of God. All we must do to receive this incredible gift from God is simply call out to Him in faith. We turn from our sins and put our trust in Jesus Christ. This is the entry point into the church and it is the only way to belong to the people of God.
The church is established by Jesus. His death is the founding stone upon which the church is built.. You see the church can often be made up of a variety of people of different ethnicities, education levels, social backgrounds, and many other things. Yet the One who brings these diverse people together is Jesus Christ. Often times there are a variety of areas on which people build community. People might build community on a special interest like a hobby or a special cause, but the church is a people united by Jesus Christ. The founding stone, Jesus, brings us all together and forms us into a new people called the Church.
Local vs Universal
The church can be seen in two light: There is the Church universal, made up of all believers in Jesus Christ at all times and the church local, which is made up of specific believers at a specific place. All true Christians belong to the Church (universal) but not every Christian belongs to the church (local). This is important to remember that being a member of a church does not grant you entrance into God’s kingdom, only Jesus does that. Yet, the church is made up of people who have received salvation through Jesus.
The Purpose of the Church
The ultimate purpose of the church is to display God’s glory. This happens as the church worships God, disciples and trains other believers to maturity, and proclaims the Gospel through evangelism and missions. The purpose of the Church is to worship, disciple, and evangelize.
Ministry to God: Worship
As a people formed and created for the glory of God, worship is the essential duty of the church. Scripture reminds us of the importance of corporate worship in the life of the church. Colossians 3:16 Paul tells us to “sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thanksgiving in your hearts to God”. We are also told “to live for the praise of his glory” (Eph 1:12).
It is vital for those who belong to the church to worship the Lord. This is why churches meet every week. The purpose of this time is for one reason to worship the Lord. We want to praise and honor the Redeemer of our souls and give our lives to him in worship. The worship services are centered around the Gospel message as revealed in the Bible. As a result, preaching is heavily emphasized because as God’s people we need to hear from God’s word. In addition we sing together, singing about our God. Our worship also includes the giving of our finances showing God that He is first.
Ministry to Believers: Discipleship
The Church also has the task of training and building up other believers to Christian maturity. The church should seek to make every man and woman mature in Christ Jesus (Col 1:28). The way believers are built up and made mature in Christ is through the teaching of God’s word to the corporate body of Christ.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, ESV)
The Scriptures are essential if we seek to grow in our relationship with Christ. As a result, the local church should focus heavily on the teaching of the Scriptures. Churches offer a variety of Sunday School classes and Bible studies to help train our members in the Scriptures so they may be complete and equipped for every good work. In addition it is also vital that believers learn to minister to one another in community. Discipleship happens best, not in a class room, but through relationships. As a result, we seek to help our members build relationships with one another so that they can grow deeper together in their relationship with Jesus.
Ministry to the World: Evangelism
The church also has the great purpose of proclaiming the good news of Jesus to the world. This is our greatest task given to us by Jesus. We are called to go and tell others about Jesus Christ. The task of the church is to make sure others hear about how they can have salvation in Jesus.
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:14–17, ESV)
The Bible makes it clear that every Christian has the responsibility of making sure this good news is heard across the world. In order for people to be saved through faith, they first must hear about what Jesus has done. Evangelism is not just the task for missionaries or pastors but for every believer.
The Mission of the Church
The mission of the church is found in Matthew 28:18–20. The resurrected Lord, before he ascended into heaven, gave this charge to the church:
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”” (Matthew 28:18–20, ESV)
God’s Glory Displayed in the Church
As the Church faithfully proclaims and lives out the Gospel, God’s glory will spread to the ends of the earth. As people come to know Christ and join God in his mission to redeem the world, God will cover the earth with his worshipers. This will happen as we work together in a local church as the people of God working in unity of our cornerstone, Jesus Christ. We are a sinful people redeemed and forgiven by Jesus. Jesus is the hope of the world and the church is God’s ordained means of taking that hope to the ends of the earth.
So Why Join a Church?
So why would you want to join a church? Well, part of the reason is because it is biblically commanded. To not join a local body of believers is to be disobedient to God’s command. Hebrews 10:24-25 states we are commanded not to forsake the assembling together. So joining a local church as a member is something commanded by God, but it is much sweeter than just a rule to follow.
So why would you join a church? You desire to join a church Because God has given you salvation by His grace through Jesus, and you want to share that good news with others. You want to join yourself to the people of God to whom Jesus has bound you. You want to lock arms with other believers to worship the Lord, to grow in maturity together, and to work together to tell the world about our savior. As the church achieves its mission, we have the promise that Christ will be with us and that nothing will stop us. Businesses will go bankrupt and nations will collapse, but the church, the redeemed people of God, will survive for eternity as God’s glory is displayed through us.
So why join a church? The better question is, why would you not?