Bull posted the above question up for discussion – I think its worthy of its own thread, so here we go…
Here’s my response, to get the ball rolling:
OK – well you all know I’m not attending a formal ‘church’ at the moment, but I am still part of the body of Christ (ie: the church), and gathering with other Christians in other ways is how I currently interact with the rest of the body. I can’t leave the church as I am part of it in Christ. So the question to me pertains to why do we bother going to an organised church.
I don’t believe we are meant to live our lives in Christ by ourselves; there is too much discussion of body life in the NT to ignore. There may sometimes be circumstances where we are isolated for a time, but I don’t believe this is God’s plan for us in the long term. We are to love one another – we can’t do this in isolation. However, I think the size and style of gathering are irrelevant as long as the expression of Christ is healthy.
There are benefits for many people in attending an organised church; the main thing is I think is to attend one that is a healthy community, teaching what Jesus believed, with a focus on Jesus and a focus on loving one another. I think its vital for church health that the focus on ‘building the church’ is about building people – encouraging us to love one another and God in a relational way, rather than an emphasis on counting salvations, participating in internal church programs, counting numbers of church plants or numbers of congregation members. If love for one another gets lost in programming or busyness, the health of the gathering will suffer.
Whatever the size or style of gathering, if it focuses on building people into maturity, so that they grow in the knowledge of Christ and increasingly live accordingly, and this is all done in love – then it will be a good place to be. Who wants to miss out on that?
I believe that we need to listen to God in our personal walk about where we would be best gathering in our current season, and certainly not to men who have their own agenda to push. If a denomination is pushing its superiority over others, putting down Christians who attend elsewhere, then we are hearing from men and their egos, not Christ. If a denomination pushes loyalty to itself and equates this with loyalty to Christ, then again we are hearing from men, not Christ, and need to seek God on our place there.
Attending church – gathering or assembling together in some form – is a good and beneficial thing according to scripture, and we ought not neglect it. I think the point is that we are part of Christ’s body, not on our own, and we are to love one another – we can’t do this in isolation.