Why the local church matters in spite of its flaws

My local church has helped me to grow through the ministry of the Word. I have learned much through sermons, Bible for Life classes, and Wednesday night youth Bible studies. My youth pastor, Bible for Life teachers, and other adult volunteers genuinely care about all of the 50 or so youth in our church as evidenced by how they give of their time and energy. There are many things I appreciate about our church, yet there are flaws and issues as well.

Because of the wide range of where church members live as well as many other factors, there isn’t a close sense of community. In such a big church, it’s hard to get to know people. I’ve felt that there’s an inner circle of families that mine isn’t a part of, and therefore I’ve never experienced close friendships. Instead, I’ve experienced loneliness while yet surrounded by so many people. I don’t see the common bond of Christ uniting my fellow teenagers.

I have found a taste of true Christian fellowship in the form of an online group of people called Revive. Revive is a group of young people, who are united by their love for Christ, encouraging one another and spurring one another on to good works while praying for one another. Revive has provided the sense of Christian community that the local church has failed to foster. Containing people from many different nationalities and backgrounds, It has provided for me a taste of the big picture of the universal church.

I think Revive has helped me see the potential value of the local church. It has also temporarily filled in for what the church has lacked. However, it’s important to realize that nothing should take the place of the local church. Online communities can be encouraging, beneficial, and glorifying to God, but they aren’t a suitable substitute for the church body.

The local church isn’t just an organization that somebody made up. It is part of the plan that God has established for the universal church. When the local church fails to live up to what it’s meant to be, it’s tempting to forsake the idea of “church” in general. You can leave a local church, but you never have an excuse for turning your back on the worldwide Church. If you love Christ, you should naturally love the body of Christ (AKA fellow Christians, members of the worldwide church). As a result, you should want to fellowship with and serve other Christians in a local church.

Remember, no human is perfect. Even Christians still sin and make mistakes sometimes. Be patient with your fellow church members, and use whatever influence you may have to try to guide your church in the right direction and work to fix the flaws. For me, that means intentionally making friendships with people I don’t know too well and hoping that that will spark a pattern to break the cliques. For you, it may mean something different.

The local church does not exist for the purpose of pleasing you. The church exists for the glory of God. Every member should be actively serving in the church with the intent of glorifying God as one unified group of believers, united in Christ.