Just five? There are actually LOTS of reasons we all need a strong church community, but for the sake of time and space, I’ll narrow it down to the five most important. But before I begin my list, I want to tell you about a time when we didn’t have the community we needed… and how much it hurt.
My husband and I relocated to a different community when he retired from 30 years on the road as a state policeman. We left the home, community, and church family where I’d been raised and where we’d raised our four children. It was both exciting and difficult. But for the most part it was good… except we just weren’t feeling at home in the church we’d chosen to be a part of. We were actively involved, but something still felt off.
Fast-forward almost three years. I became critically ill. The doctor told my husband and children I had about a 20-30% chance of survival. The kids had their dad (my husband), their spouses, and each other to lean on. My husband, however, didn’t feel he could lean on the kids. They needed him to be strong.
As he sat in the waiting room of the ICU in the wee hours of the morning, he was scared, sad, and lonely. He thought about the people he wanted to call and talk to—who he wanted there to help him through this time—but the only people that came to mind were over 100 miles away. He knew if he called any of them, they would be there as soon as they possibly could, but…
There was no one from our “new” church he felt comfortable with calling—there were many who he felt wouldn’t have come at all, and others he thought would come, but only because they felt like they absolutely had to. So he had no one to be strong for him.
You know because I’m writing this that God allowed me to rise above that 20-30%. It’s been almost 2 years and I will forever be dealing with this illness, but I’m here and my husband and I are thankful for each and every moment we have together.
You should also know that once I was able to go back to church about five months later, we decided to find a new church home/family. And praise God, we did! We are now able to give and receive fellowship, love, encouragement, teaching, and worship with a group of brothers and sisters in Christ who are truly that.
I didn’t tell you about our experience to cast a shadow on the Church or gripe and complain. I shared our experience with you as a reminder that we have a responsibility to be the hands, feet, eyes, ears, and heart of Jesus.
Wow! What a perfect segue into the five reasons we need a strong church community.
Reason #1: It meets our basic need for belonging
It took only a very short while for God to realize Adam needed someone. We see this in Genesis 2:18 where it says: The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
We need people in our lives because we are created to need relationships. It’s part of who we are. We can’t help it.
Because our instincts cause us to crave and seek out relationships with other people, it is imperative that we look for and find these relationships in the right place. And there’s no righter place that the family of God.
Reason #2: A strong church community is a place for discipleship
What is discipleship? Discipleship is a word that means training to follow and fully embrace a philosophy and teaching. In this case, the teaching and philosophy is the Gospel.
When we are truly part of a strong church community we will be on both the receiving and giving ends of discipleship. Did you get that—you should receive and give? Remember: being part of a strong church community requires you to be actively engaged. You can’t just sit in the seat on Sunday morning and expect any of this to happen.
We will receive discipleship from the elders, the preacher, our Sunday school and Bible study teachers, and those we serve alongside in ministry and those we fellowship with. Likewise, we are to give these same things to those we study with, worship with, mentor, minister with and to, and fellowship with.
Reason #3: We are held accountable
Romans 3:23 reminds us that we are all sinners in need of the saving blood and grace of Jesus. That means we have a responsibility to hold each other accountable for our behaviors.
The ‘art’ of accountability is one you need to apply carefully and with the utmost of biblical truth and godly love. But that doesn’t mean we should shy away from it if it is necessary.
I personally have seen marriages saved, addictions confronted and addressed, money issues resolved, petty disagreements put to rest with love, and major ministry problems addressed and corrected because biblical principles of accountability were applied.
I have also seen church families split, ministers wrongfully blamed, young people turn away from the church, and entire families ripped apart because gossip, selfishness, and bigotry tried to wear the mask of accountability.
So while we need accountability measures in our lives, we need a strong, doctrinally sound church community to be our accountability partner (Matthew 18:15-20; 1 Timothy 5:19-20).
Reason #4: We need to be fed a diet that will allow us to mature in our relationship with the LORD
Just like a seed cannot produce food or flowers without sun, water, and soil, we cannot grow into the person God created us to be without the benefit of learning from, worshiping, praying, serving, and fellowshipping with, and sharing in the joys of God with others.
Just like a baby will not grow into a toddler without the proper care, we won’t grow beyond the stages of just knowing who Jesus is to knowing Jesus intimately and personally without the love and care that comes from a strong church community.
Reason #5: We are commanded by God to be part of a strong church community
God is our father. He knows what is best for us—what we need in order to thrive and grow into the people He created us to be. One of those essential needs is a strong church community. That is why He takes the fatherly tone of authority when He says in the Bible:
- And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42)
- And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)
- And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-27)
I’m thankful to be part of God’s family and part of the family of our local church. It is a blessing like no other and one God desires and commands His children to partake in. Don’t miss out on this amazing blessing God wants to give you.
~ By Darla Noble