Have you ever asked yourself or heard someone else ask, “Does God have a particular local church home for me?” I have, and here are 10 of the most important reasons for considering such a question.
1. God’s church for you
God has a particular local church home for you! That might be a new idea for you. But consider this. Paul wrote to the local church of believers at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 12:18, saying,
“But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.”
To whom did Paul write this statement? It was to “the church of God which is at Corinth” (1 Corinthians 1:2). Paul was wanting every member in the church located in Corinth to understand that God added them to that particular body of believers.
2. God adds to His church as it pleases Him
The First Corinthian letter is Paul’s rebuke of the church members of Corinth for their lack of unity and for their abundance of carnality. Paul refers to the eyes, ears, hands, and feet of a body to illustrate the value of each member in their church. His message is that every member should be valued. Every member should receive the same honor and care as any other. No one should be looked down on or thought to be less important. Why? Because God added each of them to that church. Therefore, treat every member in your church as God does.
Being added to a local church by God is a profound thought for today because of the prevalence of Christians who confuse the church of God with the family of God! What is the difference between the two? The family of God includes all born again believers. Anyone born of God is in the family of God. In other words, every saved person is in the family of God. In contrast, the church of God refers to local assemblies of believers committed to work together to do God’s work God’s way. All believers are in the family of God, but only some are committed members in a local church. Other believers think that membership and participation in a local church is unimportant. This thinking is contrary to the Biblical statement that God adds to the church as it pleases Him.
3. God intends for every Christian to be a local church member
Ever wonder why the church at Jerusalem existed, or why Paul organized believers into church bodies with ordained elders throughout Asia Minor? Ever wonder why the Bible is filled with references to churches, such as the church at Ephesus, at Thyatira, at Smyrna, at Pergamos, at Laodicea, at Sardis, at Thessalonica, etc? Ever wonder why in the book of Revelation Jesus told John to write to the seven churches? The reason is simple. God intends for every Christian to be a member in a local church of believers.
In fact, of the 114 times that the word church(es) is used in the King James Bible, 96 times a particular local church is named or understood. The remaining 18 verses with unnamed churches are generically referred to.
For example, Ephesians 5:23 says, “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.”
The words husband, wife, and church are all singular but refer to all husbands, wives, and churches. Just as there is no universal, invisible husband or wife, there is no such thing as a universal, invisible church. Dr. Earl Radmacher, past President of the Southwestern Conservative Baptist Seminary, wrote that the Bible knows nothing of a universal, invisible church, and the early church believers knew nothing of a universal church doctrine. (1)
4. Obedience to God is doing His work His way
Herein lies a problem in Christendom today. The doctrine of the universal, invisible church is an invention of men. It is not in the Bible, yet many believers are taught and believe that it exists. Referring to the family of God as being the universal, invisible church of God creates confusion about the role and need for local church bodies. All believers are in the family of God. But because the church is not the family of God, as the universal, invisible church doctrine suggests, not all believers are in a local church of God. They should be. And if they are not, they are not obeying the great commission of Christ. They are failing to do God’s work God’s way, which is always the right way.
5. Maturing God’s way is the best way to avoid failing Him, failing the church, and failing yourself
Many Christians are like I was when I began my Christian life. I was won to Christ through a para-church ministry. And I thank God for their faithfulness to preach the Gospel. However, under the misguided notion that, as a Christian, I was automatically added to the church (the universal, invisible church), I failed to see the value of joining a local church body of believers. And such failure meant that I was not maturing as I should. I was failing God, I was failing the church that God wanted me in, and I was failing myself. I wanted to do right, and I did my best, and I was being discipled, but I was lacking God’s best plan for me. And for me personally, I am always seeking God’s best plan for me.
6. Organizing believers into local assemblies is the efficient way to accomplish more
In a world of perfect Christians, every Christian would be in a local church working with other believers that God puts together into particular local bodies of believers. In a world of perfect Christians, every new, born again soul would be instructed to be baptized in a church to fulfill their part in the great commission of Matthew 28:19-20, which says to go, make disciples, baptize them, and teach them to do everything Christ taught His disciples to do. In a world of perfect Christians, local church bodies of believers would be working with each other throughout the world to reach the world for Christ.
Can you imagine a world in which every Christian in the world is a responsible, active member of a local church? Can you imagine a church where every member, coordinated together, uses their time, talents, and treasures to the best of their abilities to serve God? It takes organization to get a group of people working well together. Believers who coordinate well and who use their time, talents, and treasures to work together as a team like a single, fine-tuned body will accomplish more than people doing their own thing in an invisible entity. And who better than God knows which members should be added to a particular local church body?
7. God wants you to be a member of a local church body
Granted, this scenario presents a world of perfect Christians where every born again member in God’s family seeks His will to find the church He wants to add them to. But this is what God wants. And if God wants it, what kind of Christian will oppose Him and reject His will?
8. Whatever God builds is good
Who built the church of God? And who continues to add members to His church? If God invented and built His churches, ask yourself, “Why would churches be unimportant?” And as God continues to build churches with Christians faithful enough to believe that the great commission applies to them in a local church body, who is it that will ask, “Has God really said to join a church?” We should really be saying, “Whatever God builds is good, and I want to be a part of it.” Don’t be guilty of contradicting God by saying His churches are not good.
9. God does not build things that are unimportant
God did not build His church to be a museum piece to be talked about in history books. He did not build it to be an insignificant monument for people to think about joining as an option. God does not build things that are unimportant. It may be unimportant to you because you do not see its purpose. But don’t blame your ignorance on God.
10. God commissioned local churches to establish more church bodies
Jesus built His church with twelve apostles over two thousand years ago, saying,
“… I will build my church…” (Matthew 16:18).
It began in Jerusalem, then spread to Asia Minor, then to the world. It continues today in spite of human frailty. It is a testimony of God’s grace. If God thinks that churches are important enough to send the Apostle Paul and others out to establish more of them, should any Christian dismiss them as unimportant? If building new churches is in the job description for churches to do, as dictated by God, should any Christian be saying that churches are unimportant today?
The question to ask yourself as a Christian is this:
“Am I obeying God by participating as a member in a local church body of believers?”
1 Radmacher, Earl D., The Nature of the Church, Schoettle Publishing Co. 1996.