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Summary: "Why should I bother joining a church? I’m not the commitment type..." Let me give you 5 reasons why you should have a church family. *HANDOUT INCLUDED*

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For a CD of over 100 of sermons by Darrell Stetler II (most complete with handouts), please e-mail darrellstetler2@sbcglobal.net.

NOTE: The outline for this sermon, as well as many of the Scripture choices, are adapted from Rick Warren’s book "The Purpose Driven Life".

“How wonderful it is, how pleasant, when God’s people live together in harmony!” (Psalm 133:1)

Years ago, a popular song said,

“Come on people, now

Smile on your brother,

Everybody get together,

Try to love one another right now.”

The hippie movement made the “love one another” concept mainstream. But it was taught for thousands of years by the followers of Jesus Christ. Here’s what loving one another looks like in the Church:

***SHARE EXAMPLES OF LOVING ONE ANOTHER>

Today I’m sharing with you out of my heart. Because here’s what God’s been telling me in the past few days. He’s been telling me that we’re falling into “church as usual.” Here’s what I mean:

We come to church. We sit and sing and listen. We shake hands. We leave. We do it again next week.

Several of you have become Christians. But we’re not just here to start life with Christ.

The Christian life was meant to be shared. The Bible calls shared life “Fellowship.” Why do we need each other?

1. A church family identifies you as a genuine believer.

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35, NLT).

I can’t claim to be following Christ if I’m not committed to any specific group of disciples.

When we come together in love as a church family from different backgrounds, race and social status, it is a witness to the world. No one believer can be the Body of Christ on his own. We need others in order to fully express the shape God has given us. It is when we are together, not when we’re separated, that we are his Body.

“So now you are no longer strangers. . . You are members of God’s family.” (Ephesians 2:19, NLT) This is what God had in mind for you all along. Once you are no longer a stranger to Him, he planned to integrate you into LIFE TOGETHER with His church, His family. . .

2. A church family moves you out of self-centered isolation.

The local church is the classroom for learning how to get along in God’s family. It is a lab for practicing unselfish, sympathetic love. As a participating member you learn to care about others and share the experiences of others: “If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it. Or if one part of our body is honored, all the other parts share its honor” (1 Corinthians 12:26, NCV). Only in regular contact with ordinary, imperfect believers can we learn real fellowship and experience the New Testament truth of being connected and dependent on each other.

Biblical fellowship is being as committed to each other as we are to Jesus Christ. God expects us to give our lives for each other. Many Christians who know John 3:16 are unaware of 1 John 3:16 (NIV): “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” This is the kind of sacrificial love God expects you to show other believers -- a willingness to love them in the same way Jesus loves you.

3. A church family helps you develop spiritual muscle.

No one will ever grow to maturity just by attending worship services and being a passive spectator. Only participation in the full life of a local church builds spiritual muscle. The Bible says, “As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (Ephesians 4:16, NLT).

Over fifty times in the New Testament the phrases “one another” or “each other” are used. We are commanded to love each other, pray for each other, encourage each other, admonish each other, greet each other, serve each other, teach each other, accept each other, honor each other, bear each other’s burdens, forgive each other, submit to each other, be devoted to each other and many other mutual tasks. This is biblical membership! These are the “family responsibilities” that God expects every believer to fulfill through a local fellowship. The question for you and I if we want to evaluate ourselves is, “Who are you doing these with?”

Your relationship with God is PERSONAL, but God never intended for it to be PRIVATE!

4. A church family gives you a way to make a difference.

God has a unique role for every believer to play in his family. This is called your “ministry,” and God has gifted you for this assignment: “A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church” (1 Corinthians 12:7, NLT).

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