I am going to discuss a question/position/opinion/idea that has been posed to me many times in my life. Honestly I didn't always know how to answer when someone would ask or suggest this, but the older I get, the more I learn, and the longer I am a part of the body of Christ, the better I can answer it.
Why is it so important to be a part of a church?
Now this discussion usually has many side disputes that accompany it, but I am not going to get into all of that sensitive business. (I will say yes, I do believe you can be saved through Jesus Christ without going to a building used for church services, but I will say I believe it is harder to be saved without church. There, that's all I am saying about that.) There are many, many reasons I could shoot out there advocating for attending church, but recently a new illustration has really renewed the understanding for me of why the local church is so important.
There are many purposes for the church. The church is created to be a place of corporate worship, a place of growth (through discipleship), a means to reach those who do not know Christ, and an agency of compassion. The bible calls the church the body of Christ, and for a reason; the church is supposed to be the hands and feet of Christ; reaching and going physically as Christ goes spiritually throughout the world drawing all people unto Himself. The bible creates the picture of the church being the body of Christ to illustrate how the church (referring to the worldwide church as well as the local church) is suppose to function; and that is together.
So, why is it so important to be a part of a church? Let's use the Bible's picture of the church as a body. So everyone who has accepted Jesus as their Savior is a part of the body, right? There is a hand, a foot, a finger, a nose, the whole bit. We are all a part, but we form one body. Let's imagine ourselves as whatever part, I will be the elbow. So me (the elbow) am a part of the body, which is my local church. But me (the elbow) decides I don't want to be a part of the church anymore. I want to stay home for whatever reason. Nonetheless I choose not to be joined with a church. There I am (the elbow) out there unattached and all alone.
Scenario: Wait a minute, I am not alone! I go to a friend's house every Thursday night and discuss the bible. My friend is Eye, and then Pinkie Finger, Big Toe, and Front Tooth come too.
So there you have it, all these great members of the body of Christ. But they are all unattached, out of place, and incapable of serving their purpose within the body. I am an elbow, which is the joint connecting the upperarm and the forearm. I allow the arm to bend and move. I am an important part (all body parts are important I might add). Without being in a body of Christ that means two things, first I am not fulfilling my role as an elbow. Second the body has no elbow! That is the same image (I believe) God gets when He sees us, part of his body, out of church; He sees us unattached and not serving our purpose. But when the body parts get together in unity, God can do miraculous things through them. You see, just like our physical bodies, the body of Christ is not functioning at it's highest level of potential without all of its parts... Without you.
You are important. You have a place. God has called you to be a part of His body, the church.
Don't just take my word for it, check out what the Bible has to say about the body:
Ephesians 4:15-16; Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-26