As Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago put it, “The local church is the hope of the world.” While I agree with this statement I have to take it a step further. Jesus Christ is the hope of the world and the local church is the vehicle in which God uses to bring hope to a destructive and evil world.
I want to focus on 5 reasons why I love the local church and why I believe in it so much. The 5 reasons I list are not in specific order but are all of equal importance.
A community, according to the dictionary is a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common; a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals. As followers of Christ, being in community with other believers is vital to growth. Learning to walk with Christ can be difficult.
When God called me to live a life for Him at the age of 17, transitioning to this new lifestyle of Christianity was not easy for me. I began to meet young people my age living for Christ but I thought they were all weird. I didn’t understand them. I am sure they thought the same of me. The fact I thought they were weird; it drove me to not want to hang around them. I had an egotistical view towards life. If others didn’t fit how I lived and how I thought, then I didn’t want to be around them. Sad right?
Being in community for the past couple of years has allowed me to open up about what I am going through, share my thoughts on life and on Scripture, have fun with people that are walking this walk with Jesus, spend time with people who are struggling to walk with Jesus and are trying to find their way in life. The best part about being in community is I am loved just for being me. Not my credentials, what school I graduated from, how well I play basketball, etc.…. I can be me. The next person can be them and we can enjoy each other’s company being God’s children. J
Out of community should come discipleship. The Bible is clear on discipleship. Jesus modeled it. His heart was centered on discipleship. He spent 3 ½ years discipling 12 dysfunctional men. Walking by their side, speaking into their life, teaching, praying, forgiving them, helping them see life from a different perspective. That is the core of discipleship
Speaking truth with grace and love is what Jesus did. He often offended people, but at the end of the day He was calling people to walk into truth. To walk, live, love, think and talk differently. Discipleship brings change and pushes the individual to one, be real about where they are in their walk with God and two, to do something about it.
There is something about the coming together of hearts. Hearts that are full of life, hearts that are broken, hearts that are healing, hearts that are in need of restoration, hearts that need help, hearts that need encouragement, hope, love and peace.
The local church is a gathering of a community of hearts all looking for something. It is through worship that hearts engaged and respond. Worship is a beautiful thing. It doesn’t matter your background, race, ethnic group, social status, or economic status. Any and everyone can sing praises to the God of the Universe.
Preaching is essential to our walk with God. It is necessary. God uses His messengers to get to the hearts of His people. It’s beautiful how a person can walk into a church feeling down, out, depressed, go through worship, hear a word, receive prayer and walk out of the church with a different approach towards life. God is so good!
There’s something about hearing a good word. As a kid growing up, going to church to hear a word brought excitement to my life. God would use the messenger to speak an applicable word to apply to my life. A tailor made message that I could sit in and with until the following week. It still wows me to this day!
Prayer is modeled all throughout Scripture. Prayer is a time to commune with God. Prayer is a time to communicate with God but also to listen from Him and what He has to say. Prayer should be the engine that drives the church. Prayer invites us into relationship with the God that created the entire Universe. Just think about that. God wants to hear from you but He also wants to speak to you.
Prayer, for me, has always been at the top of my strengths list. I look forward to praying for people as well as praying with people. The local church has to be a praying body. Prayer helps us discern what direction we should go in as a body but also helps us hear from God on how to pray for others within the church, our community, our nation and world.
“For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 3:11.
Jesus Christ is the foundation of the local church and the hope of the world. If we as Christians are not connected to a Bible believing, Bible teaching, Jesus centered, Gospel centered, truth seeking, discipleship focus, missional driven, worshiping, praying church then we need to pray God takes us from the place we are and lead us to the place where we need to be physically, emotionally and spiritually!