This article is part of our This Moment Matters series. Read previous articles in the series here:
- “Does This Really Matter?” by Gretchen Saffles
- “Being an Ambassador in Your Workplace” by Fernie Cosgrove
[Editor's Note: We know that some of you have been hurt by the church (some of the women on our team have too!), but we implore you to seek healing within the community of Christ instead of rejecting the church altogether.]
When I looked out the window of my sixth-story hospital room, my church family covered the sidewalk. It was an unusually cold day in October, and they were huddled under blankets, praying fervently. Pandemic precautions didn’t allow them inside, but that didn’t stop them from showing up in droves. All afternoon they gathered, braving the Oklahoma wind, praying and worshiping and calling out to God on behalf of my little family in room 604. That day God used his church to remind me that he never once left my side. In the midst of my personal tragedy, the people of God stood in the gap for me, lending faith where mine was weak and shining hope into my darkest night.
The Perfect Place for Imperfect People
In today’s cultural climate, the local church has a pretty bad rap. News of scandals, accusations, and moral failures seem to blaze across the headlines on a near-daily basis. Sadly, in many cases, the reports are true. Despite serving a perfect God, the people of God are far from it. My pastor reminds us often that church is the perfect place for imperfect people.
But even while our congregations are made up of broken people, the church is still the beloved bride of Christ. It is God’s primary design for Christian community. Someday, the church will be redeemed into the spotless bride of Christ. But until that day, she will continue to be the imperfect vessel of God’s grace to the world who desperately needs the message of hope. As believers and members of the body of Christ, it’s our job to build up the church (especially when she is weak or wrong) rather than tear her down and defame her without care. So when criticism is necessary, let it be edifying. And when hard times inevitably come, let us not give up meeting together.
Being Part of the Church Matters
Over and over again in the New Testament, we’re implored to value gathering as a local church. We see this perhaps most famously in Hebrews 10:24–25: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Yet, many of us snooze through church on Sunday morning. Somewhere between waking up early, getting ready, wrangling our families into the car, finding a parking spot, and trying to make it through the doors before the last worship song, it’s all too easy to forget that meeting as the local church is a beautiful part of the abundant life God intends for his people.
As believers, when we are a part of a healthy local church body, we are encouraged, edified, and sanctified through serving and being served, hearing and teaching the Word of God, and making disciples just as the Great Commission commands. Ultimately, investing in a healthy local church is not only beneficial but crucial to thriving in your relationship with Christ. For how can we love Christ and hate—or even bear indifference toward—his bride?
Your Local Church Needs You
Being part of your local church matters—for your sake and theirs. Just as you need the support and encouragement from fellow believers, your fellow believers need the particular gifts God has entrusted to you. As Paul reminded the Corinthians, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.” (1 Cor. 12:12–14, NIV). Don’t let the enemy lure you into believing your participation in the church doesn’t matter! God designed you with a purpose: to glorify him and build his church both globally and locally, right in your backyard.
So next Sunday morning, when you’re rushing out the door, remember: this moment matters. When you’re heading to women’s Bible study or children’s club after an exhausting day, remember: this moment matters. Just like being part of any family, investing in your local church family takes work.
It’s not always easy, but it’s entirely worth it. Not only because it’s the avenue through which your spiritual gifts are utilized to serve God’s people and build his church. But because you’re entering into the family of God, who will care for you too. None of us know when we’ll find ourselves in a hospital room, desperately needing the support of community. But when tragedy strikes, praise God for the rallying prayers of Christ’s bride. From my own heartbreaking experience, I am unendingly grateful for the support of my local church. And if you haven’t found yourself there already, I know someday you’ll be thankful for them too.