For the church to function as the church—God’s blood-bought bride—it must be in person. Different people with different backgrounds unifying around the same belief is what makes the church so special. If we resort to online church, we miss all of this. We lose the richness God has for us.
The Covid-19 pandemic wrecked all our lives. It caused heartache, strife, and conflict. It birthed tragedy, turmoil, and death—and a lot of it. And though there is an ever-so-dim light at the end of this dark tunnel, we must remind ourselves too how the pandemic has affected the church.
Covid has caused horrific physical damage. ICU scares, long-term side effects, and hundreds of thousands of deaths. It was, and still is, a threat. But I fear we have glanced over the spiritual damage that has been left in its wake.
Unfortunately, Covid has revealed a lot of people don’t care to stay in church.
There are a few church members who still want to exercise extreme caution before they step back into the pews. But there is a much larger number of previous church attenders who have used the pandemic as an excuse not to ever step foot in a church again.
And with that I fear there is a bigger problem. The problem is that the church—or, at the very least, those who profess to be a part of it—is neglecting the spiritual benefits of the locally gathered body.
Grow in Knowledge
The primary function of the local church is the shepherding of God’s people. One of the most important ways God’s people are led is by the preaching and teaching of his Word. Simply put, if you neglect the local church, you in turn neglect the opportunity to grow “in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18).
Many Christians don’t fully understand the necessity of the local church. Because of this, they are neglecting to get back into church and are therefore fumbling the opportunity to grow more in Christ. Can a Christian grow in knowledge outside of the local church? Of course, but we lose a vital instrument of our growth when we neglect the body of believers God intends to place around us.
Part of this may reveal we never truly appreciated the local church in the first place. But it also shows we don’t think we need the church.
I can listen to sermons online, some may say. Why do I need to go to a church building when I can pull up my favorite preacher on YouTube?
I’m glad you asked.
Sanctification is a Community Project
Friends, we will not grow into the Christians God intends us to be if we neglect the means he intends to use, that is, if we neglect vibrant participation in a local church. Period. Our sanctification does not happen in a vacuum. Our sanctification is a community project.