So I have been doing some reading... (how antithetical to American culture anymore) ... and I've been learning some interesting things about Christian faith and doctrine. Appropriately titled, I have have been reading Doctrine by Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears. It covers topics ranging from different biblical modes of worship to financial insight in the Bible to heretical beliefs held by many professing Christians today. Most importantly, it talks a lot about God the trinity and Jesus! I have about a chapter and a half left to go in the book. The topic that I passed just a little while ago was the chapter on God's Church. The topic that really caught my attention was subtitled "Why should Christians join a church?" Interesting enough, right?...
I have always believed that joining a church was optional for a Christian. This section really reinforced the opposite of what I believed. I knew that in my experience, joining other believers has always helped strengthen my own faith, so I've never been against church membership... just not really for "organized religion." Here are the 10 summarized points arguing why Christians should join a church:
1.) Salvation is not just merely a personal relationship with Jesus, it is also brings us into communal and missional relationships with others.
2.) Being a disciple means following Jesus. The 12 disciples were a group doing this together. The Bible refers to God's people as a flock, body, family, ect. An arm dies when removed from the body, a sheep is lost without a flock... that sort of thing.
3.) "Real disciples commit to the church because they know they need the help of others to keep following Jesus" (Pg. 333).
4.) 1 Corinthians 12 is mentioned when Paul talks about the body of Christ, exercising that every disciple has a gift or skill that is essential to make the Body as a whole function.
5.) Christians should join a church to allow themselves to be equipped properly for ministry.
6.) Christians need others to help keep the faith; check out Ephesians 4:14.
7.) Christians join a church because they are willing to risk loving others deeply (and sometimes risk being hurt deeply) just like Jesus did.
8.)"Disciples know that though the church is imperfect, Christ calls them to strengthen it by their presence rather than criticize it in their absence" (Pg. 335).
9.) In the beginning, God said "...it is not good for man to be alone..." - Community seems like a logical outpouring of the way God has created us as humans.
10.) Disciples of Jesus join and love a church because Jesus loves the Church and gave himself up for it as Scripture states in Ephesians 5:25.
Hm.. that is a pretty comprehensive list of reasons for Christians to join a church, isn't it? Although it is obvious that you don't have to go to church to be saved, Driscoll and Breshears make a pretty solid biblical argument for why Christians join a church. It is because believers should want to be in community and serve the church out of a regenerated heart, not obligation. If someone is truly striving to be a disciple of Jesus, joining a church is a natural step in spiritual growth.
This has really started making me ponder about my own stance on all of this. In the end, I agree with everything mentioned in the book. I am currently considering joining a local church and in fact I am checking out the membership class next weekend. If you are a Christian, here is a staggering statistic - About 70% of people (ages 18-30) who attended church in high school say they dropped going to church by 23yrs old. Of course, there are many implications to statistics like these... but that's not a small number by any means. If you are under 30 like me, I encourage you to get plugged into a local Bible believing and teaching church! If you don't know where to even try going and you live by me, let me know and I'd love to take you along with me to my church! I would love to hear any comments/feedback on this topic too!