“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
What are your thoughts about the word church and churches? Take a moment and write them down.
When we talk about “church,” we don’t mean the building where people gather once or twice each week to sing songs, hear a message, serve each other, and invite their friends. The Bible reveals that the “church” is a gathering of people! The original Greek word used for church in scripture was Ekklesia, meaning:
“called out from the world to God - a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place; an assembly.”
If you’ve made the decision to follow Jesus, you’re part of the church, even when you’re at work, school, at the mall, on the basketball court, or sitting at home - it's not a building, it's us.
Being rooted in a local church is essential to every rooted follower of Jesus. This experience is filled with opportunities to grow and show the love of Jesus to the world. It provides an opportunity to bounce ideas off others, have questions answered, make sure you are on the right track spiritually, and remain accountable to fellow followers of Jesus. Ultimately, we are the bride of Jesus to the world. A great word picture of the church is a family, on mission, at war. The family aspect because we aren't spiritual orphans but rather have been adopted fully into the family of God and have brothers and sisters in Jesus. We are loved and known completely. The mission component because we allow Jesus to live through us for his glory. The war angle because we need an urgency for the Good News because eternity is a real long time.
The Believers Form a Community / The Fellowship of the Believers
And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47 ESV).
Why do you say the “local” church?
The word “local” reminds us that God wants us to be plugged in, rooted and connected with other follower of Jesus geographically. Proximity matters. God doesn’t just save us and leave us; he has created a community model of living to be rooted together for his glory. God has uniquely created you with talents, ideas, and spiritual gifts to live out in Jesus with one another. We need each other. We are better together! Watching or listening to church on TV, online, or on a podcast can supplement your relationship with God, but being involved in the local church is vital for your survival and optimum growth. God uses the local church to speak to us, empower us, correct and challenge us, to give us opportunities to grow, to go deeper in him weekly, and to show his love to the world. God wants us to grow with other believers in what Scripture calls “community.” Community is where we exhibit COMMON UNITY with Jesus as our "Source"! Community is not always easy or clean but is for sure worth it and by his design.
The church is a “body” that represents God
Can you imagine if your body was in disorder and some of your organs were in different spots? Or what if there were no parking lines in a parking lot or no lines on the road for driving? What if we didn’t have police officers or firefighters? What if we let babies lead adults?
You get the point. Everything needs order, and the church is Jesus’s model to establish order and his kingdom on earth. This is exciting! The church represents Jesus on earth. It's his bride and body. Let's live with that in mind and love one another.
We are made up of many different races, faces, cultures, backgrounds, passions, and we use them all together for Jesus, each other, and all people made in the image of God. Some of us are accountants, others musicians, and many other types all making up one family.
What does “represent” mean?
“Represent” means to serve as a sign or symbol of, to stand in the place of.
God has instituted the local church to represent him on Earth, to establish his kingdom, and to show his love to a world in need of a savior. God is the author of community living. The perfect love of community is modeled in God the Father, Jesus the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 ESV).
The church is a culture where we can grow and show the love of Jesus in community with other disciples. Our love for one another reflects his glory and serves as a sign of Jesus for non-believers. As we lift him up, he draws people close to him. Followers of Jesus in the local assembly grow together, worship together, serve together, and honor God together. It’s a group of people who come together for accountability and who provide strength to help us when we fall. We have times when we will fall and fail, but we pursue Jesus over all sin because he first loved us, and we get right back up! The church helps in providing growth, stability and structure to do this.
The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked (Proverbs 24:16 NLT).
Gathering also allows for us to remember Jesus and honor the Lord’s Sabbath—a day of the week when God calls for us to celebrate that he is alive, worship him and rest. It’s God’s will for us to connect with and live in community with other followers of Jesus, get charged up, grow, be strengthened, get encouraged, and stay accountable to one another.
Ephesians 5:22-27 tells us that Jesus is the head of the church and refers to the church as his bride, and he is coming back for his bride one day. Being a follower of Jesus without being rooted in a local church is similar to an NBA player without a team. How can you play in the NBA and not be on a team? It just isn’t possible! God has instituted the church to be his means of establishing his kingdom on Earth. Of course, no local church is perfect because it is made up of imperfect people that serve a perfect God.
Jesus refers to us as being a part of the body of Jesus, which means when we all play our part, he gets glory. Churches will have unique ways of expressing their love for God—feeding the poor, reaching teenagers with skate parks, organizing groups of musicians/artists, helping people overcome addictions—but as long as we are rooted in the foundations of faith (see the qualities listed about Jesus in “Seed” Root 1), we are part of the same “body.”
A church provides us a place to grow, use our talents and spiritual gifts to serve God and others, and be a part of a plan that’s bigger than ourselves. Inside the local church are leaders who teach us, stretch us, and show us Jesus’s character on Earth.
What do you like about some of the churches you have visited or attended? Take a moment and write your thoughts down.
What are some things you would like to see happen with your church family? Take a moment and write your thoughts down.
Do I have to go to church?
You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. Get Rooted followers of Jesus don’t go to church because we have to; we go because we get to. It is awesome being where God is and learning from other followers of Jesus in a group setting. We are a family and love to gather to celebrate and encourage each other in love.
Does a church have to be a building?
No, the church is all about people who use a building to meet and grow. Many use portable locations and are even portable on purpose for purpose.
Can I ever leave a church?
If you feel God is leading you somewhere else, then bring this request to your pastor and ask him or her for insight. You can also leave if a church starts to not believe what the Bible teaches.
What would happen to you if your equilibrium stopped working abruptly? Take a moment and write your thoughts down.
What would happen to you if your eyes stopped working abruptly? Take a moment and write your thoughts down.
If these things happened, you would stumble and struggle to make it through life. As you strive to Get Rooted, you need a support system of others who are like-minded to keep you focused and on track. Sometimes our bodies have to warn us of danger, whether we are in danger of being burned or going over a cliff. In the same way, the support system of the church can warn us of dangers in our lives and lead us in Jesus and our purpose.
Maybe you’ve been hurt by the local church or a person that goes to church. I hope you can erase all prior knowledge, assumptions, and opinions, and let God show you the love he has for the church.
...Just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault (Ephesians 5:25-27 NLT).
Does it make sense to say that just because one teacher or boyfriend or girlfriend is bad, they all must be? NO! We have to be willing to focus on Jesus over people and grow in a setting with other followers of Jesus. Lean in and be solutions-oriented, and be the change you long to see.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-26 ESV).
People aren’t perfect, and since churches are made up of people, no church is perfect either. However, God is perfect, and as we grow in God we will start to resemble him more and more, individually and in community.
We can focus on honoring God through our commitment to attending and growing in a local church. As we fall more in love with God, we will fall more in love with the local church. Pursuing God relentlessly has us growing in God at the local church.
· The local church is God’s way of establishing his kingdom on Earth
· The church is referred to as a body
· God is a community model as one—Father, Son, Holy Spirit
· Jesus is the head of the church
· The church is Jesus’s bride
· Jesus is coming back one day for his church (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
· All followers of Jesus are part of the body of Jesus, even though we express ourselves differently (as long as we agree on the foundations of faith)
· People aren’t perfect; therefore, no church is either
· Our love for one another serves as a sign of Jesus for non-believers
· Pursue God relentlessly as a disciple by Being Rooted in church at least once a week (such as a Sunday morning service).
· Join a Root Group / Small Group at your church.
· Find out if your church has a membership program, and sign up for it.
· Read the book of Acts in the Bible and learn more about the earliest followers of Jesus and the first church.
· Write down questions you have about church, and bring them up to your Root Group leader.
A prayer for today
God, help me to understand and see your love for the local church. You love the church so much, and it represents you on Earth, and I am excited to be a part of that. Help me to not grow bitter if I get offended. I know that imperfect people make up the local church, so there will be tough times, but you are the one I serve. Thank you for my church and all the churches in the world. Help us all to look like you. Amen.