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Why You Need the Local Church … and Why It Needs You

By Dennis Rainey

How important is a local church to the spiritual health of your walk with Christ, your growth in your marriage, and the spiritual maturity of your entire family?

That question may surprise you. With all the information available on how to strengthen marriage, prevent divorce, and stabilize families, we don’t hear much about the role of the church. Particularly in America, individual freedom and personal responsibility for spiritual growth are emphasized so much that it’s tempting to forget how much we need the church—and how much the church supports our family relationships. And we tend to forget how much the church needs us.

The reality is that no other choice you make, besides deciding to make Christ your daily Master, will have as significant an impact on our faith, your marriage and your family as the church you join and commit to.

I think it’s time to remind ourselves of why it’s so important to become a vital part of a local church.

Part of the body of Christ

Consider this: If you follow Jesus Christ, you are already connected to the church: “God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired … Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:18, 27). And the church provides not only spiritual nourishment, but also strength and support that will help you honor your marriage covenant and build a godly family.

Many people bought into the idea that regular involvement in a local church is an optional part of their Christian life: “Isn’t God everywhere?” … “Can’t I study Scripture on my own or catch a TV service or watch a message online?” … “I can’t find a place that meets my needs.”

Of course, God can be worshiped anywhere and at any time, and television or online resources are beneficial. But God has made us part of His living body, and others need us as much as we need them in dynamic relationships that typically occur in a local church.

Hebrew 10:23-25 explains the importance of active engagement with other believers:

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.

A family of families

This type of encouragement is crucial for married couples and families. Sunday school classes and small groups in a local church help you develop friendships with other couples in your season of life. These couples can help you, strengthen you, and give you the opportunity to help and encourage others.

In addition, you can develop relationships with older couples in the church who have already been through your season of life here. Their guidance and mentoring about marriage and parenting can make a huge difference, especially when you are working through difficult issues.

The beloved pastor Chuck Swindoll speaks to the benefits a local church provides to families:

“When it’s functioning correctly nothing beats the church for effectiveness. Babies are cradled, children are loved, teenagers are challenged, parents are instructed, seniors find fellowship, singles are strengthened, and families are nurtured . . . Above all, the church is a family; in fact, it’s a family of families.”

Trust me: You need a family of families. You need that family now, and you’ll need that family later. We were not designed by God to do life in solo.