You are called to belong, not just believe
It is not natural to be alone. We are created for community, fashioned for fellowship and formed for a family - none of us can fulfill God's purposes by ourselves. In God's family you are connected to every other believer and we will belong to each other for eternity.
All believers are 'members' of the Body of Christ. The 'Body' we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Membership is often reduced to adding your name to a roll, with no requirements or expectations. We need to recover and practice the biblical meaning of membership. The church is a body (the people), not a building; an organism, not an organisation. (When you say, 'I went to church', it should mean, 'I communed with other believers')
You were created for a specific role but we miss out on this purpose if we're not attached to a living local church. We discover our role in life through our relationships with others. Disconnected and cut off from the lifeblood of a local body, your spiritual life will wither and eventually cease to exist. This Church is indestructible and will exist for eternity. It will outlive this universe and so will your role in it. God commands us to love the Church; sadly many believers use the church but don't love it.
YOUR LOCAL FELLOWSHIP
The Bible, almost totally, uses the word 'church' to refer to a local, visible congregation. It says a believer without a church home is like an organ without a body, a sheep without a flock (Nemo) or a child without a family. It is an unnatural state. The Bible offers many compelling reasons for being committed and active in a local fellowship.
WHY YOU NEED A CHURCH FAMILY
+ A church family identifies you as a genuine believer
When we come together in love as a church family from different backgrounds, race and social status, it is a powerful witness to the world - Together we are His Body.
+ A church family moves you out of self-centred isolation
It is the classroom for learning how to get along in God's family by practicing unselfish, sympathetic love. Only regular contact with ordinary, imperfect believers can teach us real fellowship and give us the experience of the truth in being connected and dependent on each other. 1 John 3:16 "Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers".
+ A church family helps you develop spiritual muscle
We are commanded to:
love each other, pray for each other, encourage each other, greet each other, serve each other, admonish each other, teach each other, accept each other, honour each other, forgive each other, submit to each other, be devoted to each other, bear each other's burdens, etc - this is biblical membership! It may seem easier to be holy when no one else is around to frustrate your preferences; if there is no one to challenge us; but this is false. We grow faster and stronger by learning from each other and being accountable to each other.
+ The Body of Christ (remember we're talking about Christ's chosen people) needs you
This is called your 'ministry', and God has gifted you for this assignment. In your local fellowship you discover, develop and use your gifts. (You may already be doing good on your own with sectarian organisations; that is however to be considered an additional part to your ministry) Jesus has not promised to build your ministry; He has promised to build His church.
+ You will share in Christ's mission in the world
Now that Jesus is no longer on earth, the church is God's instrument on earth and we are to carry it together as members of Christ's Body. He works through us in the world and we each have a contribution to make.
+ A church family will help keep you from backsliding
None of us are immune to temptation. You and I are capable of any sin. We are called and commanded to be involved in each other's lives. If you know people who have wandered from God's truth, don't write them off. Go after them. Get them back. (Just beware you don't compromise yourself in the pursuit!) A related benefit of the local church is this that God gives shepherd leaders the responsibility to guard, protect, defend and care for the spiritual welfare of His flock. Satan loves detached believers, unplugged from the life of the Body, isolated from God's family; because he knows that they are defenseless and powerless against his tactics.
IT'S ALL IN THE CHURCH
A healthy church is essential to living a healthy life. He created the church to meet your deepest needs:
~ purpose to live for
~ people to live with
~ principles to live by
~ profession to live out
~ power to live on
+ Worship helps you to focus on God
+ Fellowship helps you to face life's problems
+ Discipleship helps to fortify your faith
+ Ministry helps you to find your talents
+ Evangelism helps fulfill your mission
When we are born again spiritually, you automatically become part of God's universal family; but you also need to become a member of a local expression of this family. The difference between being a CHURCH ATTENDER and a CHURCH MEMBER is commitment. (Personally I have always subscribed to the logic that, if my heart is not in it, it is better to absent myself and explore the reason or remedy the blockage for my dissent within myself - than to effectively mock God) Attenders are sideline spectators and consumers; who only want the benefits of a church without sharing the responsibility. Members get involved in the ministry and contribute their time, talents and efforts.
To join a LIVING local church family proves that you are committed to your spiritual brothers and sisters in reality, not just theory. You must love real people and not ideal people. You are called to love imperfect sinners, just as God does. (Remember? Worship isn't practiced for what YOU can get out of it; it's practiced for the honour and glory of God!) Life is more than just commitment to Christ; it includes commitment to other believers. You become a disciple of Christ by committing to yourself to Christ; you become a church member by committing yourself to a group of believers. The first decision brings salvation; the second brings fellowship.
Remember His promise: Matthew 18:20 - "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." Isn't that absolutely marvelous -