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Is Church Necessaryby Duane Mabee on August 11, 2022
What is the church and is it necessary? Many Christians believe the answer to the second half of that question is “no”. They see no reason to go through the hassle of getting out and interacting with people they’re not sure they like, because they can get better teaching and worship music via the internet in the comfort of their own homes. More and more, Christians are shunning churches and in-person gatherings, in favor of a more private approach to their faith.
The online availability of excellent teaching and worship music is a good thing. It can reach people at times and in places no in-person gathering could. For some, it is the only option they have, so thankfully, there is a wide variety of resources and delivery methods available. But is online, individualized worship a good or even preferable replacement for gathering in-person?
To answer to that question, we need to look at the purpose of the church. What did God want to accomplish when He established the church? If He simply wants to grow the knowledge base of His children and inspire them, the online approach to church might be the superior approach. Most believers can get better preaching, teaching and music online, than they get at their local church.
Included in the reasons God created the church are His desire to mature His children through personal relationships and to unify a diverse group of people into a loving body that mystifies the world. That cannot be accomplished in the privacy of your home, where you filter out the people and ideas you don’t like.
Collin Hansen and Jonathan Leeman write that part of the maturing and unifying process includes learning to forgive and put up with other Christians. “God does not invite us to church because it’s a comfortable place to find a bit of spiritual encouragement. No, He invites us into a spiritual family of misfits and outcasts. He welcomes us into a home that’s rarely what we want yet just what we need.” He does this because it is “through these people you don’t much like, God wants to show His love to you. It’s the only kind of love that can draw us out of ourselves and into a fellowship that transcends the forces tearing apart our sick world. It’s the only essential way for us to find healing together.”
A powerful reason for pressing into the messiness of in-person gatherings is that God wants to mold and shape you and other believers through relationships in ways that you cannot be shaped without them. That shaping takes place as you learn to love and adjust to people who are very different from you and even rub you the wrong way. God wants to use this messy, but loving relationships to show the world that He can develop a deep unity between people the world cannot find a way to bring together.