(Partial audio..beginning at point #9)
I want to tell you a rather strange story about a very odd married couple.
Theirs began like most. They had a fun story of how they met. After awhile they knew they had the kind of love that led to marriage. They planned the date, made the arrangements, were lavished with celebration by friends and family. The big day came and it was perfect. The Church was gorgeous, the day was sunny – not too hot, not too cold. The flowers…everything came together and it was a Bride’s dream. The next day they headed out for a week long honeymoon to celebrate their new union.
But when they came home things got strange. They chose not to live together, but, to stay in their own homes. They didn’t get together on the weekends, they never had coffee together before work, they never met for lunch during the week, they had separate recreational interests, and ran in different friendship circles. One would be forgiven for being shocked to find that down at the county was a marriage license proving this man and woman belonged to each other as husband and wife. On paper, and, legally, and before God, they are united in a bond called marriage. But, in every practical, day to day way, they had no relationship with each other that would indicate they were in fact married.
Does this sound strange to you? It should. This story is a parable. It is a parable about Christians who have no relationship with Church. They belong to the Church, they are part of it, they are obligated to it, they ought to be there with other Christians… but, they aren’t. They live completely independent lives from the local Church.
Church is the 3rd Essential. If you are going to grow spiritually as a Christian you must make Church a weekly habit in your life. Let’s put it this way: if you truly are growing, it will be seen in your making church attendance a priority. No one who is growing in Christ is ignoring Church. A greater love for Christ will lead to a growing love for gathering with believers. You will go to church and be growing because of it, and the more you grow the more you will want to go.
Four Foundational Truths of Church Fellowship:
- Interdependency among Christians is by God’s Design (1 Cor. 12:7, 21; Eph. 2:21-22; 4:16). A baseball team can’t say to the catcher, “We don’t need you”. A car can’t say to the alternator, “We don’t need you.”
- Christians Gathering is a Command from God (Heb. 10:25). God’s will is for Christians to go to Church. He expects us to make a priority of gathering with other Christians.
- It is the normal, historical practice for Christians to Assemble together regularly (Acts 2:42, 44, 46; 5:12)
- The NT instructions for Christian living cannot be carried out unless Christians Gather. It is a fact that most NT teachings are given in the context of Christians relating to Christians. The obvious implication of this fact is that it is God’s will for Christians to be with other Christians.
Why should we Attend Church as Christians? How does it facilitate growth?
- Preaching. To hear the word of God (Acts 2:42; 1 Tim. 4:13). Online and TV preaching supplement, but, do not substitute live preaching.
- Motivation. Get motivated by the example of others who are pursuing righteousness (Ex. 23:2, 33; 1 Cor. 15:33; Pvb. 1:10; 22:24-25). You should be able to observe other people at Church living godly lives, and, you should want to surround yourself with such people.
- Encouragement. To receive encouragement from others. To give encouragement to others. Church is a chance to selflessly serve others. How can you become aware of certain needs other believers have unless you are actually engaged with them and building a relationship with them? Make it a point to talk to people and find out how they’re doing spiritually, how you can pray for them, and actually take 10 seconds to pray with them right here in church – after the service, during greeting, or before the service. Of all places this should be the place where that is normal and expected.
- Identity & Belonging. Reinforce your identity as a member of the Body of Christ. Strengthen your sense of belonging to Christ and the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:14-18, 27). Nothing compares to belonging to Christ
- Forward-Looking. Demonstrate your faith in the coming of Jesus. To build your hope (Heb. 10:25)
- Set-apart. Demonstrate you understand that you’ve been set apart from the world and unto God (2 Cor. 6:16-17)
- Prayer. The Church needs to pray together as the Church (Eph. 6:18)
- Communion. Participate in the ordinance of Communion (1 Cor. 11)
- Great Commission. (Mth. 28:18-20)Join in the Great Commission as it is carried out through your local church
- Reminded. To be reminded of righteousness, hope, truth, holiness, God… (2 Peter 1:12-13)
- Portraying unity. To join with other Christians in visibly portraying the union God has accomplished in us. We get together because we are joined together
- Relational Unity. To express relational unity with other Christians as a product of our spiritual unity in Christ (Eph. 4:3-4)
- Love. Show you really love other Christians with the special love that the Bible says Christians are to have for each other. (Gal. 6:10; Eph. 4:15-16). Love for Christ is seen in love for people. A desire to be with Christ reflected in a desire to be with His people.
- Sing. Worship God in song!
How to Make Church an Essential:
- Pray Saturday night for the service the next day
- Re-prioritize your life so that worldly pursuits stop trumping your spiritual commitments
- Repent of personal sin that is making you avoid attending
- Plan Sunday on Saturday. We start at 11am!
- Stop using excuses to avoid church. “I had a bad experience at church one time”. “I’m too busy” “It’s my only day off.” “My kid has tournaments on Sundays”. “I’d rather do other things.”