"And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching." — Hebrews 10:24-25
I have been a pastor now for over forty years. That means I have been through at least that many Easter Sundays and Christmas services as those years represent. And that doesn't include the number I attended before I became a minister of the Gospel.
We just celebrated Easter, and our church along with many others were no doubt filled to capacity, some maybe for the first time (and for the last time this year) — or until Christmas anyway!
Like every pastor and church leader, my heart always gets excited when I see the church overflow as I think to myself, "Maybe, just maybe they'll all be back next week." But alas, when next week comes, for most churches, it's usually business as usual.
A few years ago The Barna Group, a research organization that provides primary information on the state of the church in America, stated that while America is growing in its spirituality, 76 million adults regularly avoid going to church. "One-third of the adult population (34%) has not attended any type of church service or activity, other than a special event such as a funeral or wedding, during the past six months... Six out of ten unchurched people (62%) consider themselves to be Christian." That last figure means that 47 million Christians do not claim membership in a local church, or if they do, they just don't attend.
The word "church" in the New Testament is ekklesia. It literally means "called out ones," those who are called out of the world to form God's church on the earth. The word is used in the New Testament seventy-seven times, and this might surprise you, but the vast majority of the time it refers to a local church of any size.
Now what's the advantage of attending and belonging to a local church? Why can't you just go it alone? Just Jesus and you? Well, perhaps you will consider these points.
When you belong to a local church:
• You become a participant rather than a spectator. You belong to something bigger than yourself.
• You are identified with a local church body that loves Jesus Christ as the head of the church.
• You live out your life as a disciple as you learn about God.
• You commit to others just like you to stand with them in your Christian life and grow together.
• You minister to others as God develops your spiritual gifts to be used for the common good.
My friends, your local church family would love to see you this weekend, as well as last. Why not make it a point to see them as well on a more regular basis?
Now, if I'm preaching to the choir, perhaps you know someone you could share this with who's not part of the choir. Just click on the "Forward" button and send it to them. It could help change someone's life.