Church Planting or church attendance: which is more important? Church is the first thing that comes to mind when people hear the word “Christian.” In fact, with many people, when I ask if they are a Christian, their response is, “Yes, I go to church at ____”. Answering a question I had not asked, but marking church attendance as the defining factor of being a Christian. Is attending church really what it is all about?
Yes and no
I think it is easy for us to swing from one ditch to the other as we try to navigate down the narrow road the Bible teaches about church. In some situations, we put church attendance above the true state of our hearts before God. Going to church does not mean you are redeemed by the blood of Christ. Neither can we swing to the other ditch of saying church is not what matters. The Bible is very clear on the importance of community, fellowship and encouragement for ourselves and others.
What is church for?
So what is the reason for church? Why does the Bible promote it and what is it’s function? The New Testament shows us several passages of what “church” is for. Acts 2:42-47 describes to us how the new believers at the time fellowshipped together, met often, shared meals, and devoted themselves to the teachings of the apostles. 1 Corinthians 14 teaches us how we each have different gifts to bring to the church and how we are to use them to build up the church. Hebrews 10:24-25 tells us to keep meeting together, motivating one another to love and good works.
The church is not just about passive listening to sermons, but about the whole body functioning as it should (1 Corinthians 12), all to the glory of God. Church-planting, disciple-making, sharing the gospel are just a few characteristics of a “healthy” church. We should be growing in maturity as a church, not just as individuals. For the outsider looking in on a church, it should be obvious that we are followers of Christ by our love for one another (John 13:35) and one way we exhibit that is by sharing God’s love by sharing the gospel, church-planting and disciple-making.
Is church what it is all about?
For reasons, I do not fully understand, God decided to reveal himself to the world today through the church: this messy, very human model of community with Christ as the head. We were not called to live out a life devoted to God alone. We are called to be a part of community, giving and receiving both. It is a beautiful picture of God’s redemption, bringing people from all backgrounds together in unification for one purpose: to glorify God everywhere.
It is through an explosion of church-planting movements that we will see the nations of the world reached with the good news of Jesus. Indeed, the church is vital to God’s mission. We, as followers of Christ, are the church. And it is only by functioning as a complete body, that the lost will be saved.