Preaching Articles

The Inconceivable

It is important for Christians to be members of a local church because the New Testament apostles can’t conceive of anything called a Christian that’s not connected to Christ’s body. Sometimes people spiritualize that reality and only talk about the universal church, but everywhere the idea of the universal church appears in the New Testament, there’s a connection to a visible, local church.

The New Testament has no vision for the Christian life apart from our playing our part in the local church.

The truths about the church are applied there. The New Testament has no vision for the Christian life apart from our playing our part in the local church.

Our Desperate Need for One Another

The New Testament makes our involvement in a local church necessary. In the biblical pictures of the body of Christ, we see Paul making the argument that each member is necessary and irreplaceable. We see in 1 Corinthians 12 that the eye can’t say, I have no need of the feet. And the feet can’t claim, Because I’m not an eye, I’m not a part of the body. No. Each part is necessary.

In Ephesians and Colossians, Paul talks about our being joints and ligaments, supplementing each other so that the whole body may grow up. That’s really important. God’s plan A for our discipleship and growth is the local church. And he doesn’t have a plan B.

This is why all the local church substitutes are sugary, and they don’t have the nutrients we need to grow the way we would hope to grow.

It is vital for Christian witness, vital for Christian growth and discipleship, and vital for the health of our local congregations that every Christian find a healthy church that they’re able to be a part of, and serve there gladly.


Thabiti Anyabwile is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Grand Cayman Islands and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition.

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Hansie Louw

commented on Nov 7, 2017

It is vital to distinguish between a "building-less" christian and a "church-less" christian. At the moment I have resigned from my previous church and I am building-less and we have two members in our new church. We meet at home and we are fully church, but we do not have a building and a big structure. That may change slightly in future, but I doubt if our vision of small house groups where people are really the church will ever disappear. We go as far as to say that the funds will be given in the home church who will decide under the leading of the Holy Spirit how this will be applied. That is a bit radical for most churches as it will mean a loss of control of the purse strings, "worldly" as this may sound. We are totally connected to the Body, but not to a building.

Mike Brenneman

commented on Nov 7, 2017

Hanslie, so true. The word church means "the called out" (the saved) and is not building dependent. Our group met in our home for 1 1/2 years. It was great in many respects. Bottom line, God knows our needs and that of others, and wants us to join together, regularly which is what your small group is doing. Yes, a strange concept to some. Wonderful still.

Mike Brenneman

commented on Nov 7, 2017

Well done, brother! Short, powerful and so needed by those that don't realize their need or how they can be a positive influence in the church. My guess is that if one doesn't know God's word, its more difficult to know His wishes, and easier to"mold" God the way we want. Prayers that your message will reach hearts of those who are churchless.

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