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First Thoughts

Three Benefits of Church Community You Can’t Afford to Miss

Church isn’t popular anymore.

“I’m not a fan of organized religion.”

“Jesus is cool, but Christians are too judgmental.”

“I’m taking a break from church to work on myself.”

“I love Jesus, but not the church.”

Church attendance is declining, and even worse, Christians are skipping out too.

In a culture where over half of those who identify as Christians aren’t participating in a local church, we have a serious problem.

So what can we say?

How can we convince those who claim the name of Christ to commit to being a part of a church?

Even more, how can we convince those on the fringes of church life to fully enter church community?

We’re going to have to do a lot better than offer self-centered generalizations like “It’s good for you” or “You might like it if you give it a shot.”

These Christians need to come face-to-face with biblical truth. They need to be confronted with God’s words that show the better plan he has for their lives.

While there are many biblical reasons to fully participate in the local church community, we can find at least three by looking at just two verses in 1 Peter 2:9-10:

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

1. Enter church community to be who you really are.

We live in a world confused about identity. People everywhere are trying to “find themselves” and “be who they really are.”

But for those who are in Christ, Jesus tells us who we are.

In this passage, we see at least four descriptions of this gospel-won identity:

A chosen race
A royal priesthood
A holy nation
A people for his own possession.

When Jesus died on the cross, he redeemed a people for himself and made them his.

Jesus didn’t die to just make a handful of isolated Christians who would never form community with one another.

Jesus died to make believers the community. He died to make them his community.

That means believers who shun the church are shunning their God-given, cross-won identity.

That means believers who refuse to live in community with other believers are refusing to acknowledge the identity Jesus gives them.

Christians need the church in order to display their true identity.

Believers need to enter into church community to be who they really are.

2. Enter church community because God is worthy of your worship.

Jesus not only gives us an identity, he gives us a job:

that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

This is not just a job given to individuals. This is the job given to the plurality of his people.

But many Christians are missing the point.

“I worship better on my own.”

“Church music is so dull and dry.”

“I can’t find a church that fits my tastes.”

In a world where we can listen to whatever music we want whenever we want, the tolerance for church music has declined.

When worship becomes primarily about us, we will miss the need for church community.

Worship doesn’t primarily exist so that we can get the right cocktail of feelings, emotions, and enjoyment.

We worship because Jesus is worthy of our worship.

When Jesus called us out of darkness and into his marvelous light, he showed how excellent and worthy he is.

He is worthy of our effort to wake up, put our pants on, and show up.

He is worthy of us singing and thanking him, even when the music style isn’t our favorite.

His excellencies are worthy to be proclaimed in the congregation of believers.

When believers with different cultures, backgrounds, and interests gather together to worship God, they proclaim his excellencies far better than an individual could on their own.

3. Enter church community because we proclaim his excellencies better together.

When we talk about proclaiming his excellencies, there’s more than one place we do that.

The excellencies of Jesus and the gospel are so great that they are worthy to be proclaimed in any place, at any time, and in front of anyone.

When we proclaim his excellencies in the congregation of believers, we call it congregational worship.

When we proclaim his excellencies to unbelievers, it’s called evangelism.

As important as worshiping God in the congregation is, the nature of the gospel demands that we proclaim his excellencies to those who do not yet know it.

These verses specifically address Jesus’ excellence in calling us out of darkness and into his marvelous light.

Those who know Christ cannot help but proclaim the good news to those who do not yet know it.

Here’s the undeniable fact:

We proclaim his excellencies better together.

Jesus and his disciples did ministry together, and even when he sent them out, he sent them in pairs.

We witness better when we’re praying for each other and supporting each other.

When we call someone to be a disciple of Jesus, we are also inviting them into full discipleship in our church community.

A better appeal

When we call people to fully enter church community, we can do far better than saying, “You should try it out.”

Grab that person who’s been disconnected from church community and tell them, “You need to fully participate in church community because that’s who you really are.”

“You need to faithfully gather with the congregation because God is worthy of your worship.”

“If you really want people to know how excellent Jesus is, we can tell them better together.”

Jesus gave us an identity, he gave us a job, and he gave us each other.

Let’s proclaim his excellencies together.

Listen to Pastor Tim’s sermon on The Benefits of Church Community from the Sunday night series entitled Reclaiming Love: People of Compassion in a World Full of Hate.

College and Career Reach Pastor

Tim serves as the College and Career Reach Pastor at First Baptist Church. Prior to his move to Jacksonville, he was the Assistant Pastor of Allendale Baptist Church (Allendale, MI). He is one of the founders of the Michigan Apologetics Network and served as its director. He also founded and led the Ratio Christi Chapter at Grand Valley State University, which offers practical apologetics training to students.

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