Is the internet and social media replacing church attendance?
It would seem so, according to a study by the University of Chicago, as reported by The Christian Post. Their findings show that religious affiliation in the past two decades has declined, which they attribute to two factors: education and the internet.
However, another study reports that in any given week 4 out of 10 Americans attend church, which is close to the figures in the1940’s. I’m not so sure. I’m always a little suspicious of polls, surveys and University studies!
But here is what I do know. The Bible teaches that Christians are created for community. Fellowship. Relationship. As the Swiss psychiatrist Paul Tournier once remarked, “There are two things we cannot do alone. One is to be married and the other is to be a Christian.”
Indeed we are called, not just to believe in Christ, but to belong to Christ. To belong to His family. To belong to the fellowship of other believers. The Bible says, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” And that body is identified as the Church (Eph. 1:22-23).
The wisdom of God is seen in the value of a local church family. Of a place to call home. Of a relationship that is important to His cause and our calling.
But why? What is the value? Let me suggest five reasons.
(1) The Church Family identifies who you are.
A genuine a Believer. A Christ follower. A Christian fellow. The Pastors know. The Preacher knows. Other members know. The world knows. You become a witness to the world, when you can say, “I belong to this family! To this fellowship of Believers.”
(2) The church family offers inclusion into a mutually beneficial community.
If you become a “floating member” it is easy to become isolated, detached and removed from the “one another” duties enjoined on all Christians. The church family is a place for practicing sympathetic love, sharing unselfish service and participating in philanthropic fellowship.
(3) A church family offers opportunities for spiritual growth
No one will ever reach their spiritual growth potential by just being a passive spectator. The church family provides opportunities for participation, involvement, and engagement in God’s work. 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” (Eph. 4:16, NLT).
(4) A church family encourages you to continued faithfulness.
No one is immune or exempt from the temptation to give up or give in. God commands us, “exhort one another daily…so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Heb. 3:13). That takes place in the church family. We are called to care for each other, watch out for one another and restore those who have slipped. (Gal. 6:1-2).
(5) A church family provides the spiritual protection of godly leaders.
Since we can backslide, God gives us spiritual Shepherds to guard us. Protect us. And defend us from Satan’s assaults. They watch out for our spiritual welfare. (Heb. 13:17). What a great blessing it is to have godly men caring for my soul!
The difference between being an attendee and a member is commitment. Dedication. Loyalty. Friends may visit my home, share a meal with my family and enjoy our hospitality, but they are not committed to my family like I am.
Let me encourage those reading ThePreachersWord to find a fellowship of true Believers and become a part of God’s Family.
—Ken Weliever, The Preacherman