Committing to one local church is important
I believe the local church is the vehicle through which people will come to know Jesus and through which godly values can be lived out on Earth (bringing impact).
I believe the church has (and therefor we as individual Christians have) a mission to seek and save all who are lost in sin.
I believe the only way for us to impact the world is when we are united with other people with one common vision & method. Different flavours of church demonstrate the diversity of God’s kingdom and family, and can reach (appeal to) different people. But each believer needs to commit to a single church with consistent teaching & practice if they are to be effective missionaries.
That’s not to say that we can never change or move churches, more that we should commit to the church we are in for the season that we’re in. And trust God’s guiding as to which church family we should be contributing to.
A side-note on attending multiple churches:
I think it is a shame how consumerist people can be towards their church sometimes (i.e. some look to church to “meets their needs”) When people go to one church for music, one for teaching, one for the social life or whatever other reasons, the damaging feature is that ‘getting’ mentality. When that happens, those people miss out (from the blessing of being part of a committed church family) and the churches miss out (each having transient members who take much and contribute little). Of course outside impressions aren’t everything, but attending multiple churches is also poor witness to others as it promotes that attitude of ‘what can I get’ rather than ‘what can I give’ and demonstrates a lack of submission to leadership.
There is also a lack of accountability when someone attends multiple churches and this is damaging for both the church bodies and individual believer in question. There is much greater potential for a believer when they commit to one church and ‘come under’ that leadership. They can be raised up to reach their potential as leaders themselves. (Just as with Jesus & disciples, Moses & Joshua, Paul & Timothy etc).
I believe that submission to leadership is important and is a very strong theme in the Bible. Our leaders are a massive blessing given by God. When we choose to make ourselves ultimate master, we give no opportunity for guidance, godly covering or (on occasion) rebuke.
I believe one of the many reasons people don’t attend church (or attend multiple churches) is to avoid being held accountable for their lifestyle or actions. Sadly the double effect of this is those same people miss out on the spiritual edification that comes from being connected to one body.
I believe that attending multiple churches or regularly ‘visiting’ other churches leads to a lack of consistency in teaching and theology, which in turn can have damaging effects on a believer – confusing what they believe and weakening the strength of their witness to others about their faith. From personal experience, I know that there can be lots more differences of scriptural interpretation than is apparent at first, even between different churches of the same denomination. We can bless and support each other, work in partnership and share resources, but ultimately each believer needs to be part of one local church family.
I believe ones local church is meant to be family; a place of strong connections with others; a place to hone and develop a personal sense of mission; a place to find relationships that are deeply honest, personal and go beyond the superficial; a place to support each other in prayer; a place to share and meet each others‘ needs; a place to serve and contribute; a place to seek God on equal terms with each other; a place for unity. None of this can happen when we go with a ‘getting‘ rather than ‘giving‘ or a ‘convenience‘ mentality. This goes beyond mere regular attendance to willing submission; choosing to commit, be vulnerable and give all one can give.
I believe that the model of tithing set out in the old testament demonstrates that the tithe (i.e. FIRST 10% of a person’s income) should go to the local church that person attends (i.e. the Levitical priesthood) to be used to invest in serving that local community. Beyond this, we are called to give generously and extend further offerings. I would count offerings to mean finances, talents, time, gifts etc and believe each person should choose in their own heart what to give and to whom. There will be times in our lives when we can give more and times when we can give less – we need to extend grace and understanding to each other about this and not pressure people to give more.
I believe Jesus set out a model of discipleship that is essential for the spiritual edification and unity of the church body. I think this is sadly lacking from many Christians today as more people try to ‘go it alone’ or simply don’t make the time to build those relationships. They are missing out on a massive blessing and should seek out honest vulnerable accountable relationships with other Christians they respect and admire (and are willing to allow to input into their life). This b. Don’t rush it.
Scriptures about the local church & discipleship: Well, pretty much all of the NT… Acts 2, Romans 12:3-8 & 14(esp v19) & 16:17-19, 1 Cor 12 & 5 & 14 & 16:1-2, 2 Cor 9:6-12, Gal 6:1-10, Eph 4:1-16, Phil 2:1-7, Col 3:11-17, 1 Thes 2:11-14, 4:11-24, 1 Timothy 5 (esp v17), Hebrews 3:13 & 13:7, James 5:13-16
My emphasis on certain aspects of church, discipleship, spiritual growth etc merely reflect the way I’m wired and my own experiences of coming to a genuine faith from a place of total cynicism and skepticism.
I have thought about my beliefs and wrestled issues out with God for the last 9 years (hence why I have a lot to say!) I see tradition and ritual as important, but on balance as playing a small part in the big picture of God’s relational heart for his people, which is something I seek to share with others who don’t know Him yet.
So, in summary, I guess you could say my faith is very considered, unapologetically evangelistic, and – this might surprise some – open to change. (None of us get it ALL right all the time!)