The Value of the Local Church

The Value of the Local Church

We invest time and money into what we value. Today, I want to share reasons why we should value and invest ourselves into our local church family.

Each of us were uniquely created by God with gifts, purpose, and calling. You are the only you, and you are here for “such a time as this!” Pursue God and pursue your passions and dreams.

But understand that your giftings are developed and your destiny realized through family and connection to God’s people—specifically through the local church. When we embrace this truth and cooperate with God’s delegated leaders and community in which we are placed, we thrive and come alive! Our passion and purpose grow, we mature, and dreams are fulfilled.

We are created for family and for community—we need each other!

Even in the perfect, sinless environment of Eden, God said in Gen. 2:18, “It is not good for man to be alone.”While many believers seek lives of solitude to draw close to God, this was never God’s ultimate desire for his people. Following Christ means more than just believing, it means belonging to God’s family—and staying connected.

Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “You are members of God’s very own family, citizens of God’s country, and you belong in God’s household with every other Christian.” (Eph. 2:19b (TLB)

Our relationship with Jesus is personal, and unique, but God never intended it to be private and isolated. Our recent experience with the Covid pandemic, subsequent lockdowns, social distancing, and isolation has had a profound psychological effect on many. Ironically, before the pandemic, researchers were discovering how severe the effects of loneliness and isolation can be.

In a 2018 AARP article, Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO AARP, “The Keys to Healthy Living: Friendship and Purpose” wrote “Loneliness is the new smoking—according to one researcher, it is equally as bad for you as inhaling 15 cigarettes a day. Studies show that loneliness can shave eight years off life expectancy, that it has a big negative effect on quality of life, and that it’s the single largest predictor of dissatisfaction with health care. The mortality risk for loneliness is greater than that of obesity.[1]

Research is now confirming what God’s word has told us along, “It is not good for man (humanity) to be alone.” We were created relationally—we thrive when we are socially connected to others.

16th-century reformer John Calvin made this dramatic statement, “If God is your Father, then the Church is your Mother!” While each of us are justified individually by faith in Christ, the completeness of one’s new-life in Christ is realized through the Church—who like a mother, helps to “nurture” and mature you.

You see, it’s not just you and Jesus—its you, Jesus and His body, the Church!

For Paul, being a “member” of the church meant being a connected organ, a necessary part of the body of Christ. (see Rom. 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 12:12-27)

Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” Rom. 12:4-5 (NLT) We are connected to every other believer and will be for eternity!

For the organs of your body to fulfill their purpose, they must be connected to your body. The same is true for you and me as part of Christ’s body. You were created for a specific role, but you will miss this second purpose of your life if you are not attached to a thriving local church. Your destiny unfolds through relationships cultivated in the local church.

If a limb or organ is severed from the body, it will die; it cannot exist on its own and neither can you or I. If you become disconnected from the local body, your spiritual vitality is greatly impacted. When you are connected in healthy local church relationships, you grow and thrive. One of the signs of spiritual decline in a person’s life is lack of involvement with local church body life: worship services, small group meetings, serving, etc.

The church is a body, not a building; an organism, not an organization. Biblical membership then is to identify with a local church, commit to its vision and body life, use your gifts and talents to serve, fellowship with others, and then reach out to the world with His love and power.

Can you be a connected organ of a local church body by not being involved? Of course not! What about just watching Christian TV or church services by internet only? Impossible: there is no relationship or accountability.

That said, there are those who are ill who cannot attend or be involved in a local church. That is understandable. But I am specifically referring to those who simply choose not to be involved with a local church. Post-Covid and reopening for in-person services, most churches are seeing about a 36% decline in attendance. While some of this may be due to concerns some still have about the virus, many are choosing not to re-engage in church body life.

The NT assumes participation with other believers in a local congregation. Unfortunately, in today’s world, individualism has created many spiritual orphans and disconnected believers without identity, accountability, or commitment.

The difference between being a church attender and a church member is commitment. Attenders are spectators from the sidelines; members get involved in the ministry. Attenders are consumers; members are contributors.

Polls show that in most American churches, only 20% of the people faithfully attend and serve the local church, while the other 80% often only attend a Sunday service maybe once a month. This was never what Jesus meant when he said, “Come follow me!”

Attenders want the benefits of a church without sharing the responsibility. They want relationship without commitment. How can one be part of a family without participation? Healthy families work together, cleaning the house, doing the dishes etc. It takes “effort” to be connected to a family in a healthy way!

Why You Need a Local Church Family to Thrive, 6 Key Areas [2]

1. A church family helps identify us to the world we are His disciples.

Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:35 NLT)

When we come together in a local church family from diverse backgrounds, races and social status, it is a powerful witness to the world. Together, not separated, we are his body. This takes commitment to unity and fervent love for each other, despite our differences.

Love is attractive. When we radiate God’s love individually and through the local church, it draws other to Christ!

2. A church family moves us out of isolation into relationship with others.

Isolation and loneliness are unhealthy for us. We were created relationally—we thrive when we are socially connected to others.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Prov. 27:17 NIV) The local church is like a classroom where we all learn how to get along in God’s family. We learn how to care about each other unselfishly. Paul wrote, “If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it. Or if one part of our body is honored, all the other parts share its honor.” (1 Cor. 12:26 NLT)

It takes regular interaction with other believers to learn how to be real with others, not just religious! Involvement in a local church helps you learn how to be part of a family, to be team oriented instead of “me-oriented.” Discipleship, as described in the NT, involves being connected and dependent upon each other.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Heb. 10:24-25 NIV

3. A church family helps you grow spiritually.

You will never grow to full maturity just by occasionally attending worship services as a passive spectator. You need to be involved in Christian community for real spiritual growth. Real Christian maturity manifests in relationships.

Polls show that 65% of Americans say they are Christian (down 12% in a decade), but in many of our cities less than 10% of the population attend or are involved with local churches—to say there is a “disconnect” is an understatement!

To the Ephesians, Paul wrote, “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (Eph. 4:16 NLT)

Over 50 times in the NT the phrase “one another” or “each other” is used. We are commanded to love each other, pray for each other, encourage each other, admonish each other, greet each other, serve each other, teach each other, accept each other, submit to each other, honor each other and forgive each other.

It may seem easier to be “holy” when no one else is around—no one else to frustrate our preferences—but this is not Biblical! We develop in relationships with others—our destiny begins to unfold through family first!

An African Proverb states the value of community, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

4. A local church family helps you stay spiritually strong.

None of us are immune to temptation—we can fall into sin. When we are accountable to others relationally, they can help keep us on track.

The writer of Hebrews admonishes us to, “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (Heb. 3:13 NIV)

You are your brother’s keeper! “Mind your own business” is not a Christian phrase!

If you know someone is wandering spiritually, it is your responsibility to reach out to them in love—free from judgment and condemnation—and attempt to restore them to fellowship.

James stated it this way, “If you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back.” (James 5:19 MSG)

God gives shepherd leaders the responsibility to guard, protect, defend and care for the spiritual welfare of His flock. These ministry leaders are given to help develop and care for you as you mature in Christ (see Eph. 4:11-13). Pastors and leaders over congregations are put in place by God to help you—not frustrate you! Learn to walk with them, defer to them, and obey them in the Lord—you will thrive.

Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.” Heb. 13:17 (NLT)

Yes, there are unhealthy leaders and churches. However, Jesus said, “by their fruits you shall know them.” Therefore, ask God to lead you to a healthy church with healthy leaders and become a part of a thriving church family.

6. The church body needs you to help disciple others and operate in your gifts.

It is in the local church where we are most effective in discipling newer believers and a younger generation. In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul mentions four levels of discipleship occurring. Paul to Timothy, Timothy to the faithful, and the faithful believers to others who will follow. Our individual calling and assignment in the body of Christ is best realized as we serve and disciple others in local congregations.

You have a unique role to play in God’s family. God gives us assignments and ministries. He gives us abilities, talents, and gifts by the Holy Spirit. You thrive and come alive as you learn to operate in the spiritual, motivational, and ministry gifts that God has given you.

“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all.” 1 Cor. 12:7 NKJV

It’s in the local church that we discover, develop and use what God has given to us. You may have a wider ministry, but that is in addition to your service in a local church body. Jesus has promised to build his church, not your ministry!

6. From the local church, we share in Christ’s mission to the world.

We are called to reach the least, last, and the lost; and do the hard work of making disciples of them for God’s glory. The church is God’s instrument, the very body of Christ on earth. We are not just to love each other; we are to carry His love together to the world. We are his hands, His feet, His eyes and heart to the world.

We disciple the nations as we work together as family. (see Matt. 28:18-20) We thrive as we stay connected and committed in the local church.

Jesus said, “I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” (Matt. 16:18 NLT) The Kingdom of God manifested through the Church is God’s agenda for the world.

His promise to you and me is that the very forces of darkness will not prevail against us! That is comforting! The church, like his kingdom, is indestructible and will last for eternity. It is an expanding kingdom, a triumphant Church because Jesus is the head of his glorious body!

Embrace the local church, be an active participant, and discover what it means to really thrive in God!

Just like we need God, we need each other in the church. We thrive and come “alive” when we are active and involved in the local church. That is why we are called a body: we are members one to another. When one portion of the body suffers, we all should feel that pain. When one member of the body has a breakthrough, we should all rejoice together. It is God’s plan.

As Christians, we need to be part of local church congregations. While we are part of the universal body of believers in Christ, it is important to be connected, accountable and in healthy relationship to a local church and leadership.

The enemy loves to try and divide and conquer, whether a natural family or church family. If there is division or independence, the family unit will suffer and miss the fullness of its potential.

The times we are living in are challenging; it is not a time to have half-hearted relationships or connection with your local church family.

Grow in your relationship with the Lord and with your local church family. Attend regularly, give faithfully, find a place to serve, reach out to others, get involved in small groups and lastly carry his love and grace to those outside of the church—let them have a reason to come into God’s family!

Bob Sawvelle Signature


For a deeper look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message “The Value of the Local Church”


[1] Excerpt from AARP Magazine June 2018

[2] Adapted from Pastor Rick Warren’s book Purpose Driven Life

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