3 Ways a Half-Hearted Commitment to the Local Church is Devastating
‘I am a Christian, but not a member of a local church.’ Unfortunately, I hear this way too often. Many professing Christians overlook the importance of being a member of a local biblical church and simply choose to do their own thing: they listen to sermons online but sleep-in on Sundays or go out of town with friends (casual approach); they attend different churches during the year depending on their mood or the sermon topic/speaker (consumeristic approach); they attend one church but never serve or become a member of it (keeping your options open approach). While there are many factors that lead to this, it is unbiblical and must be repented of for any professing Christian. A half-hearted commitment to the local church is devastating to the individual, the church, and the outside world.
Devastating to the Individual
To forsake membership of a local church is devastating to a professing Christian’s soul. It overlooks the fact that a Christian has been called into a community of believers—the Bible does not have a category for ‘lone-ranger Christians’—and that God has provided us with graces through the local church to help us in our faith. For instance, God has given us other godly men and women who can encourage, comfort, rebuke, exhort and help us in the faith. These individuals may be much younger or older than our peer group or from radically different social or economic situations, and only by being part of a local church will we interact with them. To forsake the local church is to forsake the wisdom we might glean from them. We also forsake the blessings of having a pastor who cares for our soul. If we choose to not be a member of a local church, who will correct us when we wander off into unbelief or heresy? Who will comfort us when a loved one dies? Who will equip and train us to be on mission for Jesus? A half-hearted commitment to the local church is devastating a professing Christian’s soul.
Devastating to the Local Church
The local church also suffers greatly from the half-hearted commitment of professing Christians. The local church always has more needs than it has volunteers, but a half-hearted commitment usually results in a lack of serving. Think of all people that could be cared for and ministered to if more Christians sacrificially committed to a local church and served for the glory of God! A believer must remember that they not only need the church, but the church needs them too—thus, to forsake being a member of a local church hurts the local church.
Devastating to Our Witness to the Outside World
A half-hearted commitment to the local church also damages our witness to unbelievers. When a Christian refuses to be a member of a local church and then tells unbelievers that Jesus is the most important person in their life, what does this communicate to the outside world? First, it communicates that commitment to Jesus does not require obedience to God’s Word, which calls us to not forsake fellowship with other believers (Heb 10:25). [It teaches a cheap grace—grace that does not require us to take up our cross]. Second, it tells the outside world that we can be a Christian and go at it alone—something that is contrary to the plain teaching of Scripture, which call us to bear each other’s burdens and submit to our leaders (Gal 6, James). Third, it tells the outside world that corporate worship isn’t that important—it teaches that worship is optional! Thus, half-hearted commitment to the local church is devastating for our witness to the outside world and communicates a distorted message of the gospel.
If you are a professing Christian and are half-hearted in your commitment to the local church, repent and seek out a local church where the Bible is taught and the gospel is proclaimed. Your soul, the local church, and the outside world will all benefit greatly from your act of obedience to God’s Word.