Pastor Kevin Reed
Grace Evangelical Free Church
4714 13 Mile Rd, Rockford
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:42-47 NIV).
I’m sure you’ve heard someone say this before, “I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian.” And to that statement I always respond with a resounding, “You’re Right!” Nowhere in Scripture does it say that in order to be saved you need to go to church. But, I would counter that first statement with this, “if you are a growing Christian, you’ll be in church.”
You see, going to church has nothing to do with being saved and everything to do with growing in your walk and relationship with Jesus. Going to church doesn’t save you, but it is necessary if you are going to grow in your salvation. The apostle Paul, who coincidentally spent the majority of his ministry traveling to different places, preaching the gospel, and then establishing churches in those places (Acts 14:21-28), said in Ephesians 4 that God gave us pastors and teachers to “equip his people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
The book of Acts is filled with the recollection of the apostles establishing churches and leadership in those churches, who were then led by men who had been given, by God, the gift of pastoring, in order to help the believers grow in their faith and become more like Christ. That is why we are told in the book of Hebrews to “not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). We are commanded to come together for the purposes of encouraging each other, growing in our faith through increasing in our understanding of the Bible, and corporately worshipping our God together as we praise Him for all the wonderful things He has done. God actually promises that when we are gathered together in His name, He is there with us!! (Matt. 18:20). The early Church would have never thought about not gathering together. Luke tells us in Acts 2, that they met together daily in the temple courts and spent time praising God, celebrating communion and praying. As a result they grew by leaps and bounds.
If you are struggling in your Christian walk, then odds are you’re not making corporate worship (church) a very high priority in your life. God intended for you to be part of a local body of believers who you could worship together with, learn from, and encourage each other. If you’re not part of a church, that doesn’t mean you’re not a Christian; odds are you just aren’t a growing Christian.