Summary: Why should Christians join a local church and attend the services regularly? This sermon addresses those questions.

41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

42And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

43Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.

44Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common,

45and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

46So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart,

47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

I have in my hand an umbrella.

Allow me to read to you what I found out about umbrellas.

The word "umbrella" comes from the Latin root word "umbra", meaning shade or shadow. Umbrellas were first designed to provide shade from the sun. The Chinese were the first to waterproof their umbrellas for use as rain protection. They waxed and lacquered their paper parasols in order to use them for rain. Starting in the 16th century the umbrella became popular to the western world, especially in the rainy weather of northern Europe. At first it was considered only an accessory suitable for women. Then the Persian traveler and writer, Jonas Hanway (1712-86), carried and used an umbrella publicly in England for thirty years, he popularized umbrella use among men. English gentleman often referred to their umbrellas as a "Hanway."

Today I want to use the umbrella as an illustration of the church.

I am concerned about the growing number of people...

who seem to think being active in a local church is not important.

Many people come to church only when it is convenient.

Others make little or no effort to belong to a church.

Most of the churches in this area are down in attendance figures.

Many of the area churches that are growing...

are doing so by drawing people from the small churches.

Today, I hope to prove to you

how important it is to be under the umbrella of a local church.

POINT #1. Belonging To A Local Church Is Biblical.

Acts 2:41, it says, "the Lord added to their number."

In Acts 2:47, it says, "the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."

God ordained the church to be the way

through which the world would come to know Jesus.

In the New Testament,

there's not one example of a believer or believers

refusing to become a part of a local church.

In fact, believers in the New Testament

found their identity through the local church.

The church at Ephesus, the church at Philippi,

the church at Philemon's house--

It didn't matter where you were,

if you were a believer, you were a part of a local church.

When people started getting saved,

they started a church to help with the birth, care, feeding,

nurturing and maturing of these believers.

In Acts 6:1-2 and 1 Timothy 5:9,

we see the early church keeping lists of their widows.

All the churches in the New Testament were organized

with leaders, patterns of worship and ordinances they followed.

Acts 4: 32-35: 32 Now the full number of those who believed were of 1 one heart and l soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.

Acts 20:7 On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul preached to them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight.

So clearly, new converts to Christ joined a church...

and attended worship services regularly!

Point 2. Church Membership Means We Are Accountable.

We are accountable first of all to God;

then, to our spiritual leaders

and our fellow members in the local church.

Membership in the Body of Christ demands certain conduct.

This is one reason why some people

who call themselves Christians

choose to stay away from the church.

They don't want to be questioned about the way they are living.

We are responsible to be active, viable, contributing members,

building up the body of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-16 says:

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