On the basis that you are competing in a Christian league and choosing to do apologetics, I am willing to assume that you a) currently live in a Christian home b) attend church at least 80% of your Sundays in some form and c) that you probably haven’t had to ask yourself why going to church matters. In my opinion, one of the largest challenges of growing up as a Christian is that we too quickly become complicit with parts of our belief on the basis of its normality, not our understanding of its importance. One of the things that I love about apologetics is the opportunity to challenge that and build a foundational understanding of the concepts that you profess. This topic in particular is great at that because it challenges you to have to address a topic that you’ve likely never had to challenge. Looking at these topics, we will see that most of the Communicating with God section will stem from answering the section on the Church itself, so I will focus on time there and allow you to finish drawing the logical conclusions for the second part of this category.
46. What is the church and why is it significant?
27. Respond to the question “If the Bible has all the answers, why are there so many denominations?
47. What is worship and why is it significant?
6. Does God care if I am involved in a local church as long as I pray and read my Bible?
48. What is Bible study and why is it significant for Christ-followers?
Communicating With God:
2. How can someone know what God’s plan is for their life?
45. What is prayer and why is it significant?
28. Do miracles like the ones in the Bible still happen today?
17. What is the Holy Spirit’s role and why is it significant?
10. Respond to the friend who says, “I pray and hear nothing. I must be doing something wrong.”
Some Macro-Level Church History
Before we delve headfirst into the church today, I think it’s helpful to think about the church in a biblical context. The first church we see in existence in any form is the tabernacle; in fact, the tabernacle served as one of the earliest reasons for the church. Before Christ’s resurrection, the Israelites would spend a lot of time at the temple, as that was seen as the core of the faith. Naturally, as new believers, they would follow habit, and it was quite obvious to them that the church of Christ would need to be started. That wasn’t the usage, however, in the time of the Bible, and indeed up to the 1600s, much of the church did not have access to the Bible on their own. For that reason, the Church did serve as a lifeline to much of the early body of Christ, being relatively uncontested as the source of information regarding Christ.
A Word On The Relevance Of Church Commandments
Before we dive into what God has said regarding attending church I want to really quickly address the myth regarding Church Necessity. Many theologians have become willing to argue that the verses encouraging us towards Church Gatherings are obsolete or out of date, as many of the original reasons the church was necessary to have now been removed. My belief on this is pretty simple: I think that if our original reasons for thinking the Church was important were the same as why God thinks the church is important, then he would have specified that in the Bible. I personally would strongly encourage you to critically evaluate those ideas in light of the actual scriptural text. For me personally, I will hold to the inerrancy of scripture, and stand by those commands being intentional and accurate.
One last thing before we jump into the merits of the issue further.
Church and Communication are for Sanctification not Salvation
As we are about to jump into the merits and reasoning behind the church, communication, and community, I think it’s really important to draw the line between what we do for Salvation and what we do for Sanctification. The things we are discussing today are necessary parts of being sanctified, growing in our relationships with Christ, not tenets of us being offered salvation.
Reason One: Our Call To Community
The call to community is something that we hear about a lot; in fact, it is something we hear about so much that no one really explains its necessity anymore. But it is important for reasons greater than just ourselves. We consistently hear verses such as “iron sharpens iron” and “be always encouraging of one another ” to emphasize how God uses community in our own lives. One of the largest safeguards that the community provides Christians with is the safeguard of accountability. God talks about how this gathering of believers is used by him to shepherd his people. In addition to this, I think it’s really important to think of community as a service opportunity. A great example of this is Hebrews 10, which calls us to meet together and encourage each other unto good works even more as we see the day approaching. Here’s what I want you to think about as you delve further into this topic: community shouldn’t be seen as a one-way endeavor; often, community is one of the ways that God will use us the most.
Reason Two: Community Based Practices
The second reason I present to you is one of the most technical you will hear in the apologetic series. With that said, I do believe we ought to consider the areas where God calls us to take specific actions with the church, those being The Lord’s Supper (Matt. 26), Baptism (1st Peter 3:21), and Corporate Worship (Col. 3:16). Once again, these are part of the sanctification process, not the process of salvation, however, it is worth noting in a theological discussion that the church has specific roles in our walk with Christ.
Reason Three: God Uses The Church In Mighty Ways
A third issue I think we need to touch on is how God uses the church. Throughout scripture we see Christ setting the church as a core part of ministry. A few examples I will turn to personally are the feeding of widows and orphans, housing of travelers, and general ministry efforts. Naturally, God allows us to do these things outside of a church setting, however, I think that it’s worth noting that God’s ideal system utilizes the church for ministry. This is a great area to bring against claims focused on whether we should be in the church for ourselves as much of God’s calling on the Church revolves around its usage in the rest of the world.
Reason Four: God Values It
Finally, Church and Community are important to Christ. This is honestly the epitome of what we have discussed. In everything else, we have seen a constant theme of God mentioning the Church in a positive light for specific usages. I really love how 1st Corinthians 14:26 lays it out: “What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.”
If nothing else, we should join the church because it is of value to Christ. As those who have been redeemed purely on the basis of his love and whose greatest joy and aspiration in life ought to be the glorification of Christ, the fact that it is valuable to God should be good enough to make it valuable for us.
I’m going, to be honest, this is going to be one of the harder topics for you to deal with. I encourage you to take this opportunity to really wrestle with this topic. When you walk into that room and have to answer this question, I want you to have a reason why Church and Community are valuable. After all, you give it fifty-two Sundays a year, if nothing else, you should have a reason for yourself.
Luke is a freshman at Dallas Baptist University in Dallas Texas who plans to pursue a career in the legal field. An accomplished debater Luke competes on his college debate and mock trial teams as well as coaches and teaches debate at a local academy. To hear more about Luke or get started with your first session click the links below. Full Bio Book a Session