Do I Need Church?

So this article has been making the rounds on Facebook, by which I mean one of my FB friends posted a link to it.  It attempts to answer the question of the day for many people under 40 – do I need the Church?  

The author’s point is well made.  Yes, we need the Church because we need the Word that the Church proclaims.  If we are going to go down the false trail of assuming that the Church is a one-stop shop for everything from a morning bagel to exercise classes, then we must remember that the Church’s primary function (and the only unique function by comparison) is proclaiming the Word of God.  
I’d take it a step further, though.
If you profess that Jesus of Nazareth is also the Son of God incarnate who was born, lived, taught, healed, fed, suffered, died, was resurrected, appeared to his followers, promised to return and ascended into heaven, then you already are the Church.  
You are the Church that the Son of God suffered and died for.  You are the Church that men and women and children were willing to risk their lives to be a part of.  Not in some vague, theoretical sort of sense, but in actual, tangible, gathering together with other people who confessed this same amazing truth.  In actually hiding in people’s homes and in catacombs and wherever they could find reasonable safety.  In gathering to share a bit of wine and bread that somehow, was promised to be more than just wine and bread, and which bound them together not just with the people huddled together with them at the moment, but every man, woman, and child who had preceded them in the faith and who would follow them in the faith, and ultimately and most important with the Savior and Messiah that they joyfully and fearfully proclaimed.
Yes, you need Church because without Church you aren’t part of the body of Christ.  Attending worship is a tangible expression of this understanding.  It isn’t about you and Jesus.  It’s about God’s work in the world.  Not simply in terms of social justice and feeding the hungry, but in terms of making all of creation – including the Church – perfect again.  Your participation in corporate worship is acknowledgement that you are imperfect but one day will be made perfect.  It is – among other things – a putting to death of some small part of your self-centered sinfulness.  Or more accurately, an obedience to the Spirit of God who will not rest until every smidgen of that sinfulness that consumes you is obliterated and cast eternally away from you.
You do not go to evaluate church.  You do not go to determine if church meets your expectations and needs.  You go in acknowledgement that as part of the Church, God the Father has already met all of your needs in the incarnation, death, resurrection, ascension, and promised return of God the Son, and in the ongoing presence of the God the Holy Spirit.  You are not entitled to decide whether church meets your needs.  You go humbly acknowledging that you need the Church.  That you are the Church.  By the grace of God alone.  
I doubt that this slant on things is going to make this post viral any time soon.  That’s OK with me.  It isn’t my slant anyways, and the slant that I’m paraphrasing is the mother of all viral media – the Bible.  Spend some time with it and then decide if you still can question whether or not you need church.  

2 Responses to “Do I Need Church?”

  1. Glenn Says:

    As a confessional Lutheran I believe that we need the church in order to receive the Word and Sacraments. Home bible study, or bible study groups are fine but they are not a substitute for the church, nor can they replace the church.

  2. Paul Nelson Says:

    Thanks Glenn – agreed.  Confessional Lutheranism insists that corporate worship to receive the Sacraments is a vital part of our Christian faith.  Studying the Word of God individually is never an adequate replacement for gathering together as the Body of Christ to receive the Body of Christ.  

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