Maranatha Bible Church Chicago

Join a Church, Don't Just Attend One

The Holy Spirit underscores how the love of self will be a significant contribution to the degradation of society in the last days (2 Timothy 3:2). It is not difficult to see how that prophecy is playing out before us today.

We are living in a culture that unashamedly encourages a noncommittal attitude in almost everything that we do. Loyalty in marriage is on the decline. Businesses are finding difficulty keeping employees. Our attention span cannot commit to a video clip unless it captivates us in the first few seconds. You may have even checked to see how long this article was before you considered reading it.  

One of the reasons for this flip-flop frame of mind is that people are believing a lie. The lie that the best strategy to maximize personal fulfillment is to get the most out of something while giving the least of yourself. It is the inner voice that suggests to get up and move on once you sense that unexpected sacrifice is demanded of you. This is not of God because His Word teaches that true blessing is found in sacrifice, not selfishness (Acts 20:35).

I bring this to your attention because I am afraid that many local churches are experiencing the effects of those who claim to be believers but have bought into this myth. It is more common to hear how Christians attend a church instead of being part of an assembly. Their presence in the congregation is determined by convenience. Accountability and mutual discipleship is virtually non-existent. Blood-bought spiritual gifts are unwrapped and buried beneath the accumulating dust of apathy. Why is it a generally accepted practice for people to float in and out of Sunday meetings without a conviction to be actively rooted in one place for the long haul? Whatever the reason is, Christians are summoned to serious dedication to Christ, and by extension, to the people who are bound to the same cause in the Gospel (Hebrews 10:24, 13:7, 17).

Not only are some churches failing to reach their full potential because of this, but individual Christians, marriages, and families are suffering as well. Contrary to what human wisdom would say, there are rich spiritual blessings to be discovered in being a member who has formally expressed a commitment to a local pasture with God-fearing undershepherds. The rewards of relational covenant outshine the empty promises of personal convenience. Consider the following thoughts of what awaits us in that place of obedience:

1. A Deeper Experience of the Spirit 

“To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” – 1 Corinthians 12:7

The Lord ordained that our experience of the Holy Spirit’s manifold love, wisdom, and power would be known in the company of believers. If you hunger for God’s manifest presence, then you will eagerly desire to consistently be with His people. Isolation is not merely distancing yourself from others, but from God’s Spirit ministering to you and through you in a way that cannot be known walking on your own.

2. A Shield Against Sin’s Deceit

“Exhort one another everyday, as long as it is called ‘today’, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulnes of sin.” – Hebrews 3:13

God designed our hearts to be softened by the personalized exhortations of others. But how can effective exhortation be possible without meaningful association? How can beneficial warning and encouragement be provided without an awareness of each other’s trials and temptations? Running in and out of a worship service once a week will never grant access to this soul-preserving treasure.

3. A Louder Witness to a Watching World

“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35

The Lord Jesus presents a link between our practical service to one another and our witness to a cold, unforgiving world. If we are serious about testifying for Christ, then loving others will be our way of life. The Church is constantly being watched and our personal witness is magnified when we each participate in a welcoming, praying, serving, forgiving, and Christ-honoring community. To be satisfied with sermons on a screen – as though that is a legitimate substitute for deep commitment to a group of believers – is a win for Satan’s resistance against our witness.

These insights are just a drop in the bucket of the blessings that God has reserved within the realm of His Church. My heart breaks for those who are content with the drive-thru approach with the Bride of Christ. If you are among those who think that they can “make more money working Sundays” or “avoid issues by remaining distant from other Christians”, I challenge you to think seriously about what the Bible says about being a member of Christ's body and allow His Word to redirect your steps. 

1 Comment

Sheree Williams - October 3rd, 2022 at 4:39pm

Thank you for your faithfulness to speak hard truths. We are always praying for you and Bro. Banna and the people of MBC. We look forward to seeing you guys again very soon. And we agree with every word of this blog. We eagerly await when we can confidently become members of a church like this- praying it will be very soon, and very possibly there with all of you! Much love.