We all have spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, and relational needs. God has created the local church to bring His Kingdom to earth and to fulfill many, if not all of these needs through the community of the church.
Why is the local church important? The local church is important because it is ordained by God. It is the vessel through which God brings His Kingdom to the earth. The local church is the level at which people are discipled, grown spiritually, cared for physically, and able to serve others. Furthermore, the local church makes up the global church. Local churches support, fund, and make possible missions, ministries, and outreaches to preach the good news of the Kingdom of God.
This blog explains the local church and why it is important based off of scripture, and practical reasoning. It covers the various and extensive reasons why the local church is important and how it fits globally.
Why the Local Church is Important
The local church is important for a wide array of reasons. The church is multifunctioning to bring the Kingdom of God to the world and to the lives of the individuals within it. Furthermore, the church was been given a specific role and intention from God.
It is important that we quickly define what church means and its context as the local church. The Greek word for church is ekklēsia. Ekklēsia refers to an assembly. It also has the connotation of a legislative or political assembly. This speaks largely about what the church is and what it isn’t.
The church is, the manner in which God establishes His rule and reign on earth. The church is not a building or institution. Additionally, the local church is not one denomination against the next. The local church is the gathering in which believers meet.
This may be in an established building or it may not. The local church is greater than one church building. Essentially, it is all the local believers in one area because the four walls of a building are not constraining. However, for all practicality, there is a differential understanding between one local gathering compared to another.
There can be many local churches within one community. Many churches split for doctrinal reasons and varying interpretations of scripture. When possible, local gatherings should seek unity with other local churches. When this is not possible, they should lovingly stick to the truth of scripture, whatever that may entail.
God Ordained the Church
First, we must realize that the importance of the church rests on the fact that God ordained and planned the church. In Matthew 16:18, Jesus responds to Peter after it was revealed to him that Jesus was and is the Messiah. Jesus explains, “I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
Jesus is clearly stating that He will build His church. His church will prevail. It will not be defeated by any other powers of darkness, death, or Hades. Furthermore, Jesus is known as the cornerstone of the church. Cornerstone can also be known as the foundation of something. It is the substance upon which all else resides.
Ephesians 2:19-22 states, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit” (emphasis added).
It was God’s goodwill to bring Jews and Gentiles into the family, salvation, and the Kingdom of God. He does this through His work in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. By Jesus’ sacrifice and the power of the Holy Spirit, God establishes His church to bring His goodness and love to the world.
God Predestined Adoption
In this same vein of thought, God predestined to bring the world to Himself. Since before creation, He knew that the fall would occur and He knew that redemption would be needed. Ephesians 1:3-10 lays this out.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.”
This specific passage was written to the church of Ephesus. It shows the work of God through the church since it specifically addresses the group of believers. It also applies to all who are in Christ. God uses the church as the vessel through which this adoption is cultivated and spread.
Discipleship is a Command
Furthermore, the local church is where discipleship occurs. Those within the church as discipled and those outside of the church are discipled by the church. Discipleship involves one person sharing what they have learned with another. The best example is that of Jesus. He was a rabbi who taught, lead, and mentored His disciples and those who followed Him.
His discipleship was first hand. Jesus lived alongside His disciples and went about daily life with them. He used every opportunity to teach and reveal to them the Kingdom of God. He did so before His disciples even knew the fullness of who He is. This shows us much about discipleship and how our discipleship should look.
The way that we differ from Jesus is that as a church, we should be discipled by others, and we should also disciple. Typically, older individuals, or those who are strong and aged in the faith, will disciple those who are younger. Discipleship occurs on all levels. The disciple-maker is discipled and he or she also disciples others.
Matthew 28:18-20 is Jesus’ final charge to His disciples. “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The Church Cultivates Continued Growth
The church is where followers of Jesus gather. It is where they become rooted in the truth of scripture and the truth of God. A community of believers encourage, edify, aid, and grow one another. They also pray and worship God together.
This is the best way to reach spiritual growth and cultivation of the world for God’s Kingdom. God gives gift, wisdom, understanding, and insight to individuals differently. He designed His church to function as a body. Each individual is a part of the body. They cannot deny their need for one another.
1 Corinthians 12:17-19 portrays, “If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”
This is how God designed the Body of Christ to function. Therefore, growth occurs best within a local church setting. If believers are not connected and active within a local church, they are missing much of what God intends for them and for all Christians.
The Local Church Equips Believers for Ministry
Moreover, the local church is where believers are equipped for ministry. In the same way that they need each other to develop personally, they need one another to develop the community around them. God gives the Body of Christ and the spiritual gifts to equip the saints (all who are redeemed through Christ).
Ephesians 4:11-16 explains, “He gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
Partnership for the gospel begins in the local church. The local members are able to edify and equip one another to bring about greater levels of ministry. This ministry should expand into the surrounding community of the local church and into the world as a whole.
The Church Brings God’s Kingdom
The local church brings God’s Kingdom to its community. It also brings God’s Kingdom to the world through support, prayer, partnership, and a global heart. The local church financially funds ministry, missions, and discipleship across the globe. Without it, the gospel would never be able to reach the ends of the earth.
In the book of Acts, the believers sold all that they had for the work of the ministry. Acts 2:44-45 portrays, “And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need.”
The local church brings the Kingdom of God through sharing their resources, whether that is financial, hard or soft skills, wisdom, understanding of scriptures, experience, or prayer.
The Local Church Gives Financial Support
Additionally, the Early Church has also been noted to send money to support other churches and to support the work of the apostles. In 2 Corinthians 8:1-4, the Macedonian church is commended for generously giving despite their own struggle.
“And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people.”
Additionally, another congregation of believers was encouraged to give as they did the prior year. The writer didn’t want any churches to give until they were bankrupt. Rather, he wanted them to give of their abundance and also receive when they would be in need. This is displayed in 2 Corinthians 8:13-14.
“Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: ‘The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”
God Created People for Community
Furthermore, throughout scripture, God explains the necessity and blessing of community. It first begins in the garden of Eden when God declared, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18).
Then, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 states, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
This verse says “pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them.” This is true for all individuals, it is also true for all believers. Christians thrive in a community because God designed them for community.
God is love. Unity is one expression of this love. Jesus’ final prayer in the garden before His crucifixion was for unity. John 17:20-23 states, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.
May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
Strength is in Numbers
Continuing this topic, the local church is important because it provides strength in numbers. What is not possible on a small scall of believers, is possible with a larger group of believers. The local church congregates believers in unity, to fight against the darkness and bring the light. Furthermore, numerous local churches are able to partner together to develop a global gospel mindset.
Proverbs 15:22 explains the timeless truth, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers, they succeed.” When believers are surrounded by wise counsel, they make better personal decisions and decisions in the realms in which they lead. Accountability is also necessary to keep believers on the right path.
Without all members of the Body, the Body simply cannot function. In the ways that it does function, it will be incomplete and lacking the wholeness God designed. God has placed various gifts through the same spirit into different individuals.
How this looks within a local church varies based on how many believers they are, and the area that they are in. In countries with religious freedom, it is easy for Christians to gather in larger groups. In other hostile areas, Christians cannot meet in large groups. God can work in the midst of any circumstance. If Christians are isolated because of persecution, the Spirit can continue the good work.
However, whenever possible, Christians should not refrain from gathering with one another when they have the opportunity. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
The Church is a Biblical Concept
Moreover, the local church is important within the lives of Christians because it is a Biblical concept. Those who claim the name of Christ also follow the scriptures. This is where they get direction, commands, comfort, and truth. Those who value Jesus value scripture because it is His story.
Since scripture is important, what it explains and condones of important. There are numerous passages where the church and the actions and roles of it are spoken of. Many of these passages come directly from the letters to the Early churches and from the New Testament.
Scripture Concerning the Church
Colossians 3:16: “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”
Hebrews 10:114-17: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? How can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’
But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message?’ Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”
Acts 9:31: “Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.”
Acts 20:28: “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood.”
2 Timothy 4:2: “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”
The Local Church is Practical
In addition to all the Biblical and spiritual reasons for the local church, there are also practical reasons for the church. Of course, the church’s sole purpose is to fulfill the call of God. However, you may find that many of these practical additions bring the Kingdom of God in additional ways.
The Local Church can Help Develop Family Relations
For those who are married, those who have children, or those who are a part of a family, you know that family relations aren’t always easy. The local church can teach families how to love and care for one another. Other believers can serve as mediators between the family to bring peace, unity, and resolution.
Many local churches hold marriage conferences and parenting conferences where they give practical and applicable things to apply to hard situations.
The Local Church Helps Raise Children
Many have heard the quote, “It takes a village to raise a child.” In many ways, this is true. I cannot even count the number of times my friends’s parents cared for me as if I was their own. They provided such wisdom, knowledge, insight, and joy into my life. Community abounded in my early life and it was life-giving to all who were involved.
Additionally, the church helps raise the orphans and those who have lost their parents. James 1:27 explains, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
The Early Church was known for “going to the hills” because this is where unwanted children were left to die. The church found and rescued these children and raised them as their own. Today, the local church should follow this example of caring for those who are left to the mercy of this world.
There were young children within my churches growing up who had lost a father or mother either through death or separation. The single parents were able to bring positive influences to their child’s life through the church.
For a single mother of a son, a trusted man (or men) within the church would supplement the role of a father. They would take the boys fishing, hunting, and to sporting events, etc. They would help them maneuver through the difficulties of life, culture, faith, and becoming a man.
This same type of thing occurred for girls who had lost their mother. Women within the church would include these daughters and help them through the questions, struggles, and joys of growing up as a woman.
The Local Church Helps Members Stay on Their Feet
I have known numerous times when hardship has befallen a family. Instead of leaving the families to the mercies of the world, the church gathered around them to support them in more ways than one. A family whose house burned down was given clothing, lodging, and prepared meals. This allowed them to financially recover and process the loss.
Furthermore, in extreme circumstances such as sudden death, cancer, disease, and other catastrophes, the church is able to partner in prayer, meal planning, child care, and finances. The church functions as a family no matter the extensiveness of the situation.
The Local Church Teaches Basic Life Skills
Members of the church have different abilities, experiences, and talents. Many individuals who come into the church, haven’t had a healthy family or any type of mentorship.
The life skills that many of us gain from our parents or education are not taught to all individuals. Some individuals do not have the means. Others, struggle heavily in other areas that they cannot dedicate the time, energy, or focus to logistical aspects of life.
The local church teaches basic life skills to all who have need of it, no matter their background. This can include tutoring, reading, writing, building a resume, getting a job, how to rent or buy a home, or how to do taxes.
There really are no limits on what the local church can help with. It rests heavily on the abilities of the members of the church and the needs around them.