It’s very popular these days, even among professing Christians, to resist membership at a local church. While this thinking might initially sound right, it actually flies in the face of everything the Bible teaches. While finding the right church can take time and prayer, NOT joining a church is never an option.
In his book, Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? James Montgomery Boice talks about recovering community. As someone who was nurtured back to spiritual health by a community of believers, I can only concur with the statements that are expressed here. May God help us to get beyond our individualism — the individualism that is so deeply ingrained in our culture, and free us to love and care for others.
“A fourth area in which we need to seek renewal is for our churches to become true spiritual communities: “community” because it is only as a community that we can model relationships, and “spiritual” because what we want to model is the unique qualities of life that being Christian brings.
The church of Jesus Christ can model community as no secular organization can – not businesses, not schools, not the centers of entertainment or social life, not government or city agencies- only the church! Because the church gets us outside of ourselves as those who together have been made into the one body of Jesus Christ, we can think about and care for others. Churches have an extraordinary opportunity for reaching people for Christ through their communities at a time when other forms of community have broken down. There is no better place than the fellowship of Christians for embracing those suffering from ruptured marriages, fractured homes, and other destroyed relationships.
Christianity offers something different at this point. God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18). Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). Both of these statement concern relationships and show how necessary and desirable relationships are.
What makes a community? A community holds together because of some higher allegiance or priority. Christians are the community of those who are formed by Scripture alone and who, because of that, know that they are all sinners saved by grace alone because of Christ alone. They are not wrapped up in themselves. Therefore, they love each other and are able to stand together and welcome all types of people and races to their fellowship. They have a commitment that goes – or should go- beyond mere individualism; and if they do, they inevitably model genuine community in church settings. Such communities provide an unsurpassed opportunity for reaching the unsaved world for Jesus Christ.”
James Montgomery Boice, Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? Rediscovering the Doctrines that Shook the World, Illinois: Crossway, pages 177-179.