Summary: There are five things being a part of church allows us to do which we can’t do on our own in the same way
George Barna is a demographer and social scientist who does surveys for major corporations like Disney and Visa but also spends a good portion of his profits studying faith trends in the US and the impact the church is having for Jesus Christ. In his book, Revolution, he shares some of his latest findings which he calls radical and predicts will reshape the church. He has discovered that more than 30 million Americans are what he calls revolutionaries. They are passionate, committed Christians with high expectations of themselves, other believers and the church. They want more of God in their lives and are doing whatever it takes to make it happen. They are returning to a first century lifestyle based on faith, love, goodness, generosity, kindness and simplicity. They seek a more robust faith, one which prioritizes transformation in every aspect of their lives. As a result they have no patience or time for churches which are not making an impact for the kingdom, do not hold their members to the high standards and calling of Jesus Christ and are content with passive recipients rather than active participants as members. Thus, the vast majority of revolutionaries have left the church because they do not see it adding to their spiritual journey or their relationship to God. A CNN found in a survey a couple of years ago that found that 5 out of six Americans do not believe the church is needed to grow spiritually or to be close to God. This fits into the predominant American attitude which says that faith is a private matter and your relationship to God is an individual endeavor.
Yet this misses a fundamental fact of life: You and I were created for relationships. Let’s face it … relationships are a big deal to all of us. In fact, most problems in our lives are the result of some relationship problem, either with a spouse, a parent, a friend, a child, a coworker, or a boss. Most problems in life are relational problems. Why? Because relationships are at the center of our lives. That’s how we’re wired and created. We were created for relationships. We need one aoother for our mental, emotional and spiritual growth. God said in the Garden of Eden, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Rick Warren put it this way, “We are created for community, fashioned for fellowship and formed for family, and none of us can fulfill God’s purposes by ourselves.” We were never meant to live this life or be in relationship with God apart from other believers. Why church? We need relationships but not just emotional or physical relationships but spiritual relationships as well.
The problem is most of us believe that your relationship to Jesus is personal, but it was never meant to be private. Our faith in the same God and Savior connects us to one another. Paul uses the analogy of the body to describe this connection when he talks about the body of Christ in our Scripture today. “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.” The foot cannot say to the eye, I don’t need you and the hand cannot say to the heart I don’t need you. We need one another for our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual growth. Paul put it this way, “…you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Cor. 12:12-27 And where is all this connectedness and relationship supposed to happen? The church. From the beginning, Jesus showed us that our faith is meant to be lived out in community. That’s why he chose 12 disciples with whom to share life and as well as faith and service. No one can do it alone.
Now there are five things being a part of church allows us to do which we can’t do on our own in the same way. The first is fellowship. Fellowship is more than casual conversation, potluck dinners and having fun together. New Testament fellowship is sharing life together, the pain, disappointments and frustrations of life as well as the joys, successes and laughter of life, all in the context of faith in Jesus. We need fellowship to survive and be enriched. Studies have found that babies in orphanages who are not held or given individual attention shrivel up and die and the ones which did survive are developmentally impaired. We need fellowship to grow spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally. We are a product of the environment we grow up in. How do we learn and grow and to become mature? We do so through communities that challenge us in loving and caring relationships.