Message Introduction: Today, we’re going to talk about church. What is the importance of church? A recent poll in April asked the question: Is attending church important? 49% of the people said somewhat or very important, while 51% said not too important or not important at all. About 50:50. When those under 30 were asked the question: only 20% think that attending church is important. Although as people grow older, many do return to church, this number is the lowest ever seen for this age demographic. Today, overall, 36% of people are regular church attenders, the lowest percentage in this decade. While, 40% have not attended church at all in the last 6 months, an all-time high. The top two reasons why people think that attending church is not important are: 1. I find God elsewhere and 2. Church is not relevant to me personally. Those are the opinions about church of people in our society today. So, this morning, we’re going to look at what the Bible has to say about church. My message is entitled “Loving God’s People in Community.” The Bible defines the church as the community of God’s people. The universal church therefore is comprised of all believers regardless of what denomination or local church they attend. By definition, the universal church has only believers in it.
Ephesians 2:19-20 (NIV) Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
So, the universal church is the household or community of God’s people, with Jesus Christ as the foundation. The local church, on the other hand, is the visible church that we can see, such as Life Church and the other local churches in St. Louis. Local churches are generally attended by believers and unbelievers. The percentage of believers in local churches varies widely by denominations. A recent poll indicates that the denomination with the highest percentage of born again believers is the Assemblies of God, of which Life Church is a part, with 81%. The denomination with the lowest percentage of born again believers is the Catholic Church with only 25%. Contrary to popular opinion, all churches are not the same and it matters a great deal which one you are part of. Just because someone attends a church does not mean they are a believer. However, the Bible teaches that every true believer will be part of a local church. The Bible does not even consider that a believer would not be part of a local church or attempt to find God elsewhere. In fact, we’ll see that those who claim to be believers and aren’t part of a local church are not believers at all. Does that mean that attending a particular church makes you a believer? Absolutely not, but those who are true believers will be part of a local church. Today, we’re going to see the importance of being part of a local church. And we’re going to learn how to help bring others into the community of the church. Together, the community of the church can do amazing things with God. So what does God’s Word have to say about the church?