I hope you got to read the responses from my Out of Church Survey. (If you missed it, you can access it here.) What does a church offer? (I’m using the word “church” to mean a gathering where the Bible is preached and most—but not all—of the people in the congregation are born again believers. I am not using the word church for all churches or for a specific church denomination. Church in this post means a Bible preaching and believing local congregation.)
What exactly does the church offer?
- A place to get together with other believers. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching (Hebrews 10:25). The church is for mutual encouragement. Just as a coal removed from the fire eventually grows cold, so does a Christian removed from fellowship. We need each other.
- The mission of the church is summed up in the Great Commission: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matthew 28:19-20). The church is to teach the gospel, and baptize and train (disciple) Christians. Jesus knew we needed the church.
- A place for people to hear the gospel. The Bible says the gospel is: the death of Jesus Christ for our sins, His burial, and His resurrection from the grave. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). It’s so important that people can go to church and hear the gospel. If they haven’t yet accepted Jesus, it’s important. If they are born again, it’s important to appreciate what Jesus did for sinners. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).
- A place for Bible teaching. The Bible talks about new Christians being like new babies who need milk in order to grow. As they grow, they eat more solid foods. And, that’s how it is with the Christian life. As we learn the Bible, we grow spiritually. As we grow, we’re able to assimilate “stronger” truths and apply them to our lives. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Hebrews 5:13-14).
- God uses Bible preaching to touch hearts that need a Savior. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14) For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe (1 Corinthians 1:21).
- The church provides a place for children to hear about Jesus. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:14).
- It's where people can obey God in the Lord's Supper and in believers' baptism. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come (1 Corinthians 11:26). Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them (to the church) about three thousand souls (Acts 2:41).
- It’s a venue for Christian service. The members work together to benefit the local church. They use their gifts and help each other. They pray for each other. They send out missionaries and reach out into the community. They bless others by caring and serving. (See Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; and Ephesians 4:11-12.)
- The relationship of Christ and the church is a direct parallel with the relationship of the husband and wife in the home. (Read Ephesians 5:22-33.) The church serves as an object lesson for a great marriage.
- We actually glorify God when we’re in church. (The last verse, below.)
That he (Jesus) would grant you, according to the riches of his glory,
to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;
that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
May be able to comprehend with all saints
what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge,
that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly
above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages,
world without end. Amen. (Ephesians 3:16-21)