The Importance of Church Community and Things to Look for In a Local Church
The content addressed in this blog includes:
What Is The Church?
The Church is ultimately a global community of believers, yet it takes the form of countless local churches. The Bible speaks of Christ as being the head of the Church; His body, which are the church members. The members are those chosen by God; who have truly trusted in Christ alone for salvation.
Colossians 1:18 says, “And He (being Jesus) is the head of the body, the church.”
In Acts 20:28, instructions were given to the elders of the church to “care for the church of God,” followed by reminding them that the church of God was that which Christ “obtained with His own blood.” What he is saying is that Christ’s blood was poured out in His death on the cross to be the atonement for the Church. Meaning Christ’s death was the covering of sin, paid once and for all so that the relationship between God and man could be made right and no longer separated by man’s sins. (Check out 1 Peter 3:18, John 3:16)
We often say I’m going to church. While church is very often a place we go, ultimately it is the followers of Christ who gather together which make it church. Therefore, the church needs people to make it a church. The church is an important place for Christians to have fellowship and encourage one another. Each member of the church has been given their own spiritual gifts to display God’s kingdom here on earth and make disciples of all the nations. (Reference 1 below)
Why are Christians Called to Be a Part of a Church Body?
Those who are followers of Jesus Christ are called to be a part of a local church community because all of us have different gifts and strengths that the Lord Has given for us to use to help build up and edify others in the church body. We get a picture of God’s design for the church and the importance of coming together to care for, and live in fellowship with others in our church community in 1 Corinthians 12:14-27 which says,
“For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, 'Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as He chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I have no need of you,' nor again the head to the feet, 'I have no need of you.' On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”
We see there that every follower of Christ has been given unique gifts to make up the church body as a whole. Therefore, it’s important to get plugged into a local church to use your gifts for the edification (the lifting and building up) of the members. You also will be blessed as God uses the gifts of others in the church to encourage, teach and help you as you face different things in your own life.
Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” (ESV)
In Ephesians 4:4 the apostle Paul writes to the church describing the different roles and gifts God gives the members: “There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call.” Then in verses 11-16, he describes the different callings saying, “And He (God) gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds, and teachers, to equip the saints for the word of ministry for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
From this, we see the church body is made up of different members to teach, evangelize, attain unity and knowledge of Jesus, mature us in our faith, come together to help grow in discernment, speak the truth in love to one another, and be built up together in love. These are things that cannot be done on our own and are God’s great design for His Church!
A couple of other verses that address the church body and help us see what the church is called to as we gather together are:
Acts 2:42 “And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread (communion) and the prayers." (ESV) Acts 2:46-47 “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved." (ESV)
Important Things to Consider and Look For In a Church
The first thing to keep in mind when looking for a local church is that churches are filled with imperfect people. Mark 2:17 reminds us that Christ came not for those who are well and righteous, but for those who are sick and in need of a Savior.
Mark 2:17, "And when Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (ESV)
With that, we will never find a “perfect church” here on earth, yet that does not negate the importance of being plugged into a local church and living in fellowship with other believers in that community.
To get an initial idea of what a church believes, check out what is usually called the “Statement of Faith” on their website. (Click here to see a sample “Statement of Faith”). Then through listening to audio sermons from the church, visiting a Sunday service, and/or meeting with their pastor you can gain an understanding of their views and where they stand on key values.
With that in mind, here are some things that are important to look for in a local church
1. Find a church that has solid Biblical doctrine and is centered on the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Speaking God’s truth as He has revealed it in the Bible; that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, we all are in need of a Savior, and the only way to salvation is through Jesus Christ, by grace through faith.
Here are some verses that reveal what the Bible says about what the true Gospel is and the importance of not distorting it:
Galatians 1:6-9, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (ESV) Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (ESV) Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (ESV) Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (ESV) Ephesians 4:15, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ,” (ESV)
2. Find a church that believes in the inerrancy of Scripture; whose teachings are rooted in the Bible. A church where the Bible is the foundation and center of their messages, rather than being used to back up their personal thoughts and ideas. This is the difference between exegesis: getting the meaning from Scripture and allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture Vs. eisegesis which is us taking our cultural understandings and reading them into the Word. (For more info on that visit our “How To” page here and check out our “How to Get Meaning From the Bible Using Exegesis” video and post). A good question to ask is, are they being mindful of the full context of the Bible passage they are using in their sermons?
Here are some verses to keep in mind:
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (ESV) 1 Thessalonians 2:13 “ And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” (ESV) Psalm 119:9 “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” (ESV) Matthew 24:35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.” -Jesus (ESV) Proverbs 30:5-6 “Every word of God proves true; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you and you be found a liar.” (ESV) 1 Corinthians 2:6-7, 13 “Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.”… ”And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” (ESV)
3. Find a church focused on growing in holiness rather than happiness; whose desire is to exalt and glorify God and not man. One that is not led by the culture or a focus on self, but rather focused on the Creator and what He wants for our lives.
Here are some verses that remind us of the importance of taking our eyes off ourselves and setting them on Christ and His glory, as He alone is worthy of praise and the way, the truth and the life.
Hebrews 12:1-2 “…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (ESV) Romans 12:1-2 “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (ESV) 1 Peter 2:9 “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.” (ESV) John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (ESV) Matthew 16:24-26 “Then Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (ESV) Psalm 115:1 “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” (ESV) Romans 11:36 “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” (ESV) Colossians 3:2 “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (ESV) 2 Corinthians 12:10 “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (ESV)
Sample Statement of Faith
We believe in the Scripture of the Old and New Testament as being verbally and completely inerrant in the original writings and of supreme and final authority in faith and life.
We believe in one God, eternally existing in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We believe that Jesus Christ was begotten of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary and is true God and true man. The Holy Spirit was sent by the Father as promised to convict the world of sin, to glorify Jesus and to transform the lives of believers into the likeness of Christ.
We believe that man was created in the image of God; that he sinned and thereby incurred not only physical death but also spiritual death which is separation from God; and that all human beings are born separated from God with a sinful nature.
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures as a representative and substitutionary sacrifice, and that all who personally place their faith in Him are redeemed and justified on the basis of His shed blood.
We believe in the resurrection of the crucified body of our Lord, His ascension into heaven, and His present life for us as High Priest and Advocate.
We believe in the ‘Blessed Hope;’ the personal and imminent return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We believe that all who receive by faith the Lord Jesus Christ are born of the Holy Spirit and thereby become children of God, a relationship in which they are eternally secure.
We believe in the bodily resurrection of the just and of the unjust; the everlasting blessedness of the saved, and the everlasting conscious punishment of the lost along with Satan and the other fallen angels.
We believe that the Church is a spiritual organism made up of all believers in Christ; that in its local manifestation it is an autonomous assembly of believers; and that its ordinances are baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
Invitation to Reach Out to Us
If you’re in search of a local church and want some recommendations, feel free to reach out to us! While we don’t have connections everywhere, we’d love to try to help find recommendations for churches near you!
If you’re already plugged into a solid church, we’d love to hear about it so we can share it with others who may be looking to get plugged into a church in your area.
To contact us, visit our Contact Page, or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
ESV Study Bible. Crossway Bibles. Wheaton, IL. 2008. pg. 2532-2533
Scottsdale Bible Church. Scottsdale, AZ. Statement of Faith. (https://scottsdalebible.com/we-believe/)