Author Shane Claiborne has said: “The church is like Noah's ark. It stinks, but if you get out of it, you'll drown.”
Simply put, church can get messy. And, that’s probably part of the reason why I’ve heard many of my fellow millennials make excuses for avoiding church—“I’m too busy,” “I’ve been hurt by other Christians,” “churches are full of judgmental people,” “people are hypocrites or insincere,” etc.
We live in a society that increasingly seems to disparage church attendance, a sharp contrast to the psalmist who said, “I was glad because they said to me, ‘We will go to the Lord’s temple’” (Psalm 122:1).
Now, going to church, of course, doesn’t save us. It’s trust in Christ alone that saves. But, church is still important for believers, and it’s crucial to convey that to our children.
The Importance of a Local Church
Here are some of the reasons we shouldn’t jump off the boat when the going gets tough.
Spiritual Gifts—Several NT passages make it clear that every believer receives spiritual gives for the purpose of building up the body of Christ (cf. 1 Peter 4:10; 1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12). This can’t be done in isolation. The primary place we use our spiritual gifts is in the church serving alongside other believers.
The Ordinances—Jesus Christ established two church ordinances for believers: baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Communion). Baptism demonstrates to others our union with Christ, and the Lord’s Supper is a form of communion and fellowship with Him. The church carries out these practices.
Hearing the Word of God—While we can and should read the Bible on our own throughout the week, setting aside a time each week to hear the Word of God emphasizes its importance in our lives and helps us grow in our spiritual walk. Romans 10:17 says, “Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ.”
Accountability—God put in place spiritual leaders to act as overseers and shepherds of His flock, and He commands us to submit to those in authority so long as they are not leading us into sin or asking us to do something contrary to the Word of God (Hebrews 13:17; 1 Peter 5:1–4). It’s hard to submit to our spiritual leaders unless we regularly are involved with an organized body of believers.
Further, when a believer isolates himself, it often becomes easier to hide or rationalize sin. We need to help each other pursue paths of Holiness. Galatians 6:1 urges us, “Brothers and sisters, if a person is discovered in some sin, you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness.”
Serving One Another—Many passages in the NT give “one another” commands: (1) “wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14), (2) “love one another” (John 13:34), (3) “encourage one another” (1 Thessalonians 4:18; 5:11), (4) “confess your sins to one another” (James 5:16), (5) “pray for one another” (James 5:16), etc. Going to church should be about more than meeting our individual needs; it’s about serving others.
The Great Commission—We can share the gospel anywhere, but the church is one of the primary modes God has established for taking the gospel message to the world. The Great Commission specifically commands believers to make and baptize disciples, something you’d be hard pressed to do without a church.
Family Discussion Questions
At some point, as our children grow up, it’s helpful to talk about why we attend church. Here are a few questions to ask:
1. Why do you think it matters that Christians attend church consistently?
2. What factors are important in choosing a church?
3. What is the spiritual significance of each part of the church service (musical worship, communion, tithing, the sermon, etc.)?
4. How can your spiritual gifts be utilized?
5. How do you think the local church can best carry out the Great Commission?