Step 8: Be Engaged With The Church
In Christ, we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (Romans 12:5)
A: Discovering the Truth
B. Exploring the Truth
God has characterized the Church as a body. Like a body the Church is made up of many members, yet it forms a whole. If one part is missing the whole body suffers. An ear can, to some degree, compensate for the loss of the eyes, but the whole person will suffer nonetheless for the loss of the eyes. So it is with the Church. It functions better as a whole, if all of the members are accounted for and functioning in harmony with the rest of the members.
Besides being a support group, the Church serves as the primary means by which the world is evangelized and once evangelized, they are assimilated into the body and are discipled. Without a doubt Christ is the head of the Church. But the body is what carries out His commission to go, be witnesses, win converts and make disciples. This is a continuous cycle. We go out into the world as witnesses. When converts are won to Christ they are brought into the body where they can be discipled. Eventually, they are able to go out and the cycle begins anew. While this can, and does happen one-on-one without the involvement of the larger body, it works best when the entire body becomes involved.
C: Knowing and Understanding the Truth
Of course, as we all know, the universal Church consists of a multitude of local churches. In fact, today each locality has many different churches. But the same concept applies. Individual Christians within a community should be part of a one of the local bodies, rather than trying to fulfill Christ’s commission as an individual agent. Typically, a new convert is brought into the local Church that the one who won them to the Lord attends. Often this is the person’s parent’s Church. But sometimes people have moved away from family or came to faith in a manner (e.g., evangelistic meeting, radio ministry, personal crisis) where there is no one to introduce them into a local body. Other times Christians who are already a member of a local assembly moves to another community and must find another church to attend. In these cases, the question becomes which one?
Nowadays there are many to choose from. There are many denominations within one community. In larger communities there often is more than one church of the same denomination in the same city. There also are churches with different worship styles. Finally, as our culture has become more and more diverse, and more tolerant of different beliefs and lifestyles, many fellowships have sprung up that do not always hold to the truths of Scripture. They might worship a “supernatural” being or force that is not the God of the universe. Their religious commitment may be legalistic with an emphasis on external observance rather than an internal the change of heart. There may be attitudes of permissiveness, beliefs that are compromised or a quiet profession of the lips without practice in the lives. There may be an undue emphasis on religious conformity with no evidence of spiritual transformation. Or the belief system may be one of convenience and preference rather sound in doctrines that are often inconvenient. So, one must be careful when choosing which church to belong to.
D: Weighing the Truth
It should be clear that a church is more than bricks and mortar. A building does not make a church. It is the people inside the building that make up the church. In fact some churches exist without a church building. Most, if not all, of the first century churches functioned quite well without a building program. But like a physical church building, the church body is only as solid as its foundation. It might look good on the surface, but underneath there may structural defects. The defect can be so serious that when the winds and rain comes it risks being blown away or falling.
This is why it must be built on a solid foundation. What does your Church stand on? Which way are the scales tipping?
E: Questioning the Truth – For musing on your own
1. Why do you think so many Christians do not attend church regularly?
2. What impact has the decline in regular church attendance had on the body of Christ? On the world?
3. Why are encouragement, accountability and authority so important?
4. Why is it important to remember that Christ is the head of the Church?
5. How does being witnesses and making disciples relate to each other? How do they complete the cycle?
6. How can we distinguish between a spirit of devotion and mere legalistic commitment?
7. In what ways does faithfulness to God’s Word guard against permissiveness?
8. How can church members take what it hears on Sundays and put it into practice the rest of the week?
9. What is the harm in adapting sound doctrine so the Church can appeal to and reach the masses?
10. How can churches do things in Christ’s name, yet not be known by Him?
11. What makes the difference between a chosen church and a rejected church