Church

Why Church Matters

Church attendance is slipping and people are valuing Church less and less. Why does Church matter? Can we get Christian community elsewhere?

Last summer I wrote a blog titled, “Faith in Recovery: Are Traditional Faith Communities Necessary?”.  At the time I had left the Church and the Christian faith for a variety of reasons, but most of the reasons involved seeing hypocrisy in the Church and being hurt again and again by Christians.  A year later, I have found myself exploring a faith community once again in a local church in St. Louis, Missouri, and I am identifying again with the Christian faith.  I am a Christ follower, or at least I try to be.  Last summer I made the argument that traditional faith communities or churches are no longer necessary and neither is meeting corporately for worship.  Over my years in church, as a member and a leader, I have seen churches become buildings over people, businesses to be run, and I saw them become disengaged from both the culture and their congregants.  The Church I saw was not what I think Jesus envisioned during the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20), nor was it relevant to my life or my friends who are non-believers.  I am not here today to criticize the Church or argue against traditional faith communities once again, but instead, I am here to invite you to rethink church and how we as Christians are the Church.

Rethinking church begins by reexamining ourselves.  After all, we (all who claim to be Christ followers), are the Church.  What does it to mean to reexamine ourselves?  2 Corinthians 13:5 gives us an idea about that.  I often ask myself, am I the kind of person that I would want in a church?  Or, do I represent Jesus well?  Would my friends see Jesus in me?  With that comes accountability.  It is one thing for me to think I am representing Jesus well, but it is another thing for others to think that and hold me accountable to scripture with others in community.  One reason I think traditional faith communities matter is because we are called to be accountable to one another and carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).  We are also called to share meals together, in particular the Lord’s Supper, praise God together and help others in the community who are in need (Acts 2:42-47).  It is very difficult to do this outside of a traditional faith community.  I think it is okay and even sometimes necessary to reimagine what a traditional faith community looks like and where and when it meets.  I have no problem with a church meeting in a school, home, or even a bar, but it does matter that we meet together for worship, teaching and the Lord’s Supper.

I also think the bible was a book that by and large, was meant to be read in community.  While I definitely think it is important for Christians to spend time studying scripture regularly as individuals, we will glean more from it and perhaps hear the Spirit speak differently when it is read, shared and studied in the context of community.  Christians have been doing this since the beginning of the Church and continue to do so weekly throughout the world.

While I definitely think it is important for Christians to spend time studying scripture regularly as individuals, we will glean more from it and perhaps hear the Spirit speak differently when it is read, shared and studied in the context of community. 

Traditional faith communities matter because they transform us and the world around us.  I am made new when I meet Jesus in church and experience his presence in others in community.  I am then more able to bring the gospel of the Kingdom of God (Luke 4:16-21) to my neighborhood, coworkers, friends and family and the world around me when I am part of a traditional faith community or a local church.  Christianity and church was never meant to be solely an individual thing.  Jesus came to save the whole world and transform it, here and now, not just after we are dead.  I think often times Christians, like me, miss the point of the gospel; that it comes to renew all of creation.  I think the renewal of creation process happens best through the local church or traditional faith communities.

You might be thinking, like I once did, that you can be a Christ follower on your own, outside of a traditional faith community or a church, but you really cannot.  It does not work.  Jesus sends out the disciples in pairs, surrounds himself with community and commissions the Church.  Jesus’ ministry was marked by including people into the community, all kinds of broken, messy, sinful people, and transforming them and the world around them.  We do not need to rethink if church is necessary, but we need to ask ourselves, “Why does church matter?”

You might be thinking, like I once did, that you can be a Christ follower on your own, outside of a traditional faith community or a church, but you really cannot.  It does not work.

Church matters because Jesus lived in community and churches should be gospel centered communities.  Jesus wants us to live in community.  Traditional faith communities matter because they transform us and the world around us.  We can rethink how we do church, but we cannot rethink church altogether.  We can be active agents in God’s redemption story and renewal of all creation through the Church.  It is time we discern our motives and do some serious soul searching if we find ourselves reaching the conclusion that traditional faith communities no longer matter.

About dmwise

Dave Wise is a husband, father, Christ-follower and a blogger. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri with his wife Kelly and works part-time as a barista. Dave and his wife attend The Journey Church at Tower Grove in St. Louis, Missouri. He blogs regularly at: davewisematters.com You can connect with Dave on Twitter at: @dmwise

20 comments on “Why Church Matters

  1. That was nice. I love to see those who have given up on the church to return. Very encouraging to see. Do you mind if I share this in the future? On Sunday mornings I share work by other writers on this issue.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are always welcome to share stuff that is post on this website. Just please cite the website and author. We are glad you stopped by and found it helpful!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’d given up on church for a long time, but some faithful friends who are Christians and pastors kept encouraging me to keep my eyes on Jesus not other people. One pastor told me people will let you down because we are all broken and sinful. Church allows us to work together to be the body of Christ and hold each other accountable to the mission to baptize and make disciples. Thanks for reading.

      – Dave Wise

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      • Thanks for responding Dave. I love the local church. I have only been saved and in church for about 8 years, and it’s been a wonderful church, flaws and all. It really lifts me to see a person come back, though, and is very encouraging.

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  2. The need for an actual church depends on the individual. While most need and benefit from it, it is not necessary for salvation, else the Desert Fathers died unsaved. It takes a strong person to be able to make it without the camaraderie of communal worship.

    Liked by 1 person

    • While you are right that Church attendance does not equal salvation. It is dangerous to assume that you can do life apart from Christian community. Even Jesus surrounded himself with support in his deepest moment of need.

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      • That is why I said that it take a strong person to be able to do it. No one should attempt it unless they receive the calling. With the exception of Mary of Egypt, I know of no DF who took it on without proper training. Even she may have received it first, records are unclear on that point.

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      • Modern Theologian, While we appreciate your thoughts. We do not hold the desert fathers in as high regard as you. Yes, they fled to the desert to seek out God, and leave corruption behind; Even Jesus went to the wilderness to seek out God and prepare himself. Jesus returned and sought out and saved the lost. The desert fathers did not, yes people might’ve sought them out, however we’re called to be the light of the world, and we would argue that the desert fathers hid their light. Today it is important to remember for our spiritual health we are to meet together in community and break bread.

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  3. Love, Gem x

    I love this article. Thank you for sharing. I needed it…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you liked the article. My journey with church has been rocky, and I haven’t always been the person I would want in a church. I’m learning and growing in my faith and spiritual journey. Please share the article and link if you like it.

      – Dave Wise

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  4. As one who has transistioned from a stable church environment and experienced various sublets of the faith to compensate, i truly agree there is not quite that home feeling of a church when its embraced in community. Because trying to create your own is like trying to copy a piece of artwork…it may look the same, but it doens’t have the the same feeling of being credited when it’s only a copy. ~Altar&Well.

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  5. Thank for you sharing. Church both energizes and soothes me like nothing else, a true balm for my weary soul.

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  6. Great post! This spoke to me greatly and thank you for sharing. Do you mind if I share this?

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    • Please share the link and encourage others to check out other articles at rethinknow.org and on my blog at davewisematters.com

      – Dave Wise

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  7. Dave, thank you. I appreciate how you have shared how your thinking about attending church shifted. As a newish Xtian, I was blessed with a pastor who would always remind me it was about the Jesus fella, not ‘religion’ (in the Pharasseic sense) or institutions. But Jesus in community is fulfilling and uplifting – especially under times of duress. So encouraging!

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    • I agree. A pastor friend of mine told me to keep my eyes on Jesus, not other people. People will let you down, even and especially in church. For too long I was looking to the wrong thing. I think our weaknesses are made perfect through Jesus in Christian community.

      – Dave

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Why Church Matters – Truth in Palmyra

  9. Daniel Miguel Villa

    Can we just say, the church is important because Jesus and the Bible tell us of its importance. Ephesians 3 even states that the church expresses God’s wisdom – warts and all, the church expresses God’s wisdom and power. How God continues to transform his people is a beautiful picture of God’s plan of creating a people for himself.

    There is of course a place for personal relationship with God, but this should be taken as a means to something: so we can be a part of his people growing together, transforming, serving.

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  11. Pingback: 5 Things To Do When God Isn’t Answering Your Prayers – Rethink

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