Why Is Church So Important?
(by: Ben Fronczek)
Text: Acts 2:42-47
Did you ever notice how many church buildings are in and around Granville, NY area, or what ever area you are from? If I’m not mistaken there are about 20 churches within a 4 to 5 mile radius oour small country community of Granville. And even though some churches only have small congregations or have even close their doors, some of those church buildings date back hundreds of years, including our old building which was built in 1860.
Over those many years, I wonder over the years how many feet climbed those stairs to enter this facility? How many prayers and songs of praise went up to our Lord God? How many gave their heart to Jesus? How many sermons were preached? How many kids played behind the pews? How many meals were served downstairs after church?
By coming here today and worshipping with us, and sharing a meal afterwards, whether you realize it or not, you are part of a heritage. People worked hard and gave of their means so that their children, their grandchildren, and great grandchildren, and great, great grandchildren could gather together in church buildings like this all around the community. Why? Because they saw the importance of having a place to do just what we are doing here today.
Even generations ago those people understood the tremendous value of gathering together at least once a week as a church; as a church family.
I believe they recognized that all of us, whatever generation we live in, have a number of needs which God will take care of, if we assemble together for church.
Whether you realize it or not, Church can and should help us with at least three particularly important needs which each one of us have:
#1 It should fill some Spiritual needs that we have
#2 Some Social needs that we have
#3 And some physical needs that we have
Let me read to you a scene from the early church after it first began .
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
God has placed within each of us some basic needs that are met when we make church a priority in our lives.
In Act 2:42 the writer Dr. Luke tells us that these new Christians,
“devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
Now if you don’t know that background to this text the apostle Peter had just explained to this crowd who Jesus really was. I’m sure some in that crowd did not know about Jesus. Many of them had just made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Pentecost festival from other lands. He explained that Jesus was the one that the prophets of old spoke about. He was the Messiah that they had been waiting for, the one who would remove their sin. He tells them that their fellow Jews had Him killed by having the Romans crucify Him. The crowd was upset after hearing this and so Peter tells them want they personally needed to do to make it right. They needed to repent and be Baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. And we read that 3000 responded to Peter’s invitation and were baptized that very day. (Read Act 2 for the whole story)
But then what? Then we have verse 42. They spent time together. They devoted themselves to learning more from the apostles. They devoted themselves to fellowship (spending time with one another, breaking bread sharing meals together like a family). And they also devoted themselves to prayer. And the text goes on to say that they shared and took care of one another whenever there was a need.
These are valuable things for us to consider today as one considers why we should even bother going to church on a regular basis.
First of all, the church assembly is important… Because…
#I. We Have Spiritual Needs that need to be filled
So what are spiritual needs? For one thing, they are not physical needs. Someone once said, “A Spiritual need is the small black hole in one’s heart searching for truth.” He goes on to say that “life is not worth living if one does not have anything to gain after death. These are all questions answered by spirituality, religion, and the divine truth of God. We are spiritual beings and our purpose is to seek knowledge of truth and follow the right path.”When we are young most of us care more about our physical needs being met, but as we grow older, we want and need more. A spiritual appetite grows within us. That’s why I believe these early Christians devoted themselves to the Apostle teachings. They wanted to know more and feed on the spiritual truths being taught.
Three times Jesus told Peter to “feed My sheep or lambs”. (John 21:15-17) Now Jesus did not have any four legged lambs, but He knew that there would be hungry souls that would want and need to know more about Him and the kingdom of God. And that’s what a good church should be doing; feeding you and helping you grow spiritually through good sermons and Bible studies. It should be a place where you can get those important questions answered.
In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Paul wrote that,
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
And as true as that is, and as many times as I have read the Bible through, sometimes I personally find it so very gratifying to sit at the feet of someone who has studied it more than I have. We should never stop seeking, and learning, and growing spiritually. We are designed to crave such things. And hopefully our church can help you with these.
2. The next thing that Luke tells us they were devoted to was “to fellowship…” and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper)…”
Now, they like us, had some social needs. I don’t know of any other time in history when the kind of fellowship one can experience in a good church is needed more than it is right now.
At one time these old church buildings were the center of the community’s social life. People did not rush to church, spend an hour worshiping, and then rush home. Back in the 1800′s people either walked, road a horse, or came by carriage to church. It wasn’t just a place to worship God, it was also a place to get together and visit with your neighbors, friends and family after a hard week of work; maybe even have a meal together. It was a place to learn the latest news and find out if someone needed help or encouragement. It was an important social network where people of like faith could worship together, eat together, play together, laugh together, work together, and cry together. I believe people are hungry for these kinds of relationships today. But somehow we’ve made ourselves so busy with our work, and taking care of kids, and our homes. Rather than spending time with people, we plop ourselves down in front of our television or computer exhausted until we conk out at night hardly speaking a word to someone who really cares for us all week long.
As much as one can worship God on the side of a lake, on top of a mountain, or walking through a pasture, I believe that God designed the church to fill some of our social needs. After becoming part of a church more than once I have heard people say that they felt closer to members of their church than they did to their own family, who many times seem distant and uncaring. I truly believe that God does not want us to be lonely. At any point in time, you should be able to call someone in your church family if you have that need.
It also has other benifits for our family, for example I read this story last week…
“A little old lady was amazed at how nice the young man was next door. Everyday he would help her gather things from her car or help her in her yard. One day the old lady finally ask the young man, “son, how did you become such a fine young man”. The young man replied, “well, when I was a boy, I had a drug problem”. The old lady was shocked, “I can’t believe that”. The young man replied, “it’s true, my parents drug me to church on Sunday morning, drug me to church on Sunday night and drug me to church on Wednesday night”
Even though our kids may not understand the positive effects church has on their life, never under estimate the power of what they learn by going to church. Even if they do not go later in life, what they learn and the time they spend in church becomes an underling foundation in their life. It’s an added bonus of what these spiriul teachings and what social network’s influence can do.
#3. The last thing that Luke tells us that they were devoted to, was that they devoted themselves “to prayer.”
The emphasis is on collective prayer. This addressed some of their emotional and physical needs.In the early church, prayer was clearly a high priority and it was an important part of their life together. Christian not only sought the prayers of others, we also read where they prayed and fasted together for many reasons. That’s how much they cared for and were devoted to one another. And because of that, on many occasions those individuals and those churches were very successful. I have not heard of many successful churches that did not place a priority on prayer.
I believe God has created us all with these needs and I believe that these needs are meant to be filled within the context of community, a church family.
People like to say, “Well I can pray and read my Bible at home!” True, but unfortunately, most don’t. And we have needs that won’t be met unless we take advantage of gathering together with a community of believers.
A lot of people seem convinced that going to church is simply not cool anymore; it’s out dated. It was for another time and another era, but I beg to differ. In a recent radio program David Jeremiah spoke of a friend, Leif Anderson, who wrote a book. And in that book Mr. Anderson gives some interesting statistics to put this all into perspective.
He mentions that the number of people who now attend church in the U.S. is about 102 million on an average Sunday. To put that number into perspective he compares that number to the number of people who attend a professional sport. The number of people who attended a professional sports last year, like professional Football, Baseball, Basketball, hockey etc., numbered about 94 million in the U.S.. That means more people go to church on a given Sunday than the number of people that went to a professional sporting event in all of last year. In a year’s time Sporting attendance was only at about 2% of church attendance. So if someone tries to tell you that church attendance is fading away in the U.S. don’t believe them.
A second thing which he mentions in his book is that for every 100 worshippers that attend a protestant church on that given Sunday that are 70-79 years of age, there is an average of 160 to 200 between that ages of 20-29. Every once in a while you hear that young people are staying away from church.. And I say, “Not they’re not!”
More and more people are beginning to realize that endless hours spent working, or watching television, playing video games or surfing the internet is simply not enough. Something in their gut is telling them that they need more. They want more. They want answers, honest answers. They want those spiritual holes filled. And they also want to find some good people, people who really, really care about them and their needs, people they can trust and feel a sense of belonging to.
And that’s what we hope to do here. We are trying to become the kind of Church that God expects us to be, one that teaches the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. We want to be a church where you feel comfortable with the members, maybe even becoming best friends with some of them. And we also want to be the kind of church that really cares about your needs and will help you and will pray with you.
We recognize we have a responsibility to meet some of these important need that each one us and every one of you have.
It is my prayer that you allow us answer some of your question and help you grow spiritually. If you can’t make it to our Bible studies or have other questions I will even come to your home to answer some of those questions and study with you. If you live out of our area feel free to email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to answer them.
I pray that you realize we have your best interest in mind here and we offer our friendship. We are no perfect, no church group is, but we are at least trying to live the way Jesus wants us to live. And we will do our best to help you and pray with you if your heart is troubled.
We are a small group now but it is our prayer to develop a sizable congregation of believers here Granville, NY to meet even more of these needs a we function as a close and loving family, the family of God, and I personally want to encourage you to become part of it.
For more lessons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566