The naysayers are at full throttle. "Local churches are dying!" "Churches are no longer relevant." "The church is full of hypocrites." "I don't need the institutional church."
The naysayer nabobs of negativity are in full force. It's easy to give up. It sadly can be easy to believe God has given up on our churches. But He has not. I am convinced He has not.
My son, Sam Rainer, posted here his reasons why we should not give up on established churches. Indeed, he wrote an entire book on the topic. Allow me to add my own postscript with ten more reasons.
1. The local church has been God's chosen instrument since the ascension of Christ. Christ left us with the church to carry out His plan. He even refers to churches as "the body of Christ." Local churches have been messy since the onset (Take a quick read of 1 and 2 Corinthians and Galatians as examples). He did not give up on the first-century churches. He will not give up on the 21st century churches.
2. Believers can do more together than individually. We are called "church members" because we are members of the body of Christ (See 1 Corinthians 12). One member is not nearly as effective by himself or herself. We were not designed for Lone Ranger Christianity.
3. The local church is where the Word is proclaimed and taught every week. Indeed, that is one of the key reasons for churches to exist.
4. The local church is the place to gather to worship. Sure, we are to worship God individually. But we are also told to come together to worship with fellow believers. Such is one of the primary purposes of the church.
5. The local church engenders accountability. The very essence of gathered believers is natural accountability. We are to submit to one another in willing and cheerful accountability. And that is intended to take place in the local church.
6. We experience grace in the local church. I agree. The church is full of hypocrites and I am chief among them. The gathered church reminds us that we are a bunch of sinners who have been forgiven. As we continue to experience the grace of God through Christ, we should naturally desire to show that same grace to one another.
7. The gathered church can have a great impact on its community. Most of us have seen the incredible difference a church can make on its community when that becomes its focus. I recently heard of a church where several local public schools were begging the church to come to their schools as a ministry. Those school leaders knew what a positive impact that church was making.
8. The local church can provide an incredible organized ministry of small groups. Once believers get in small groups, they are apt to do more ministry, to read the Bible more frequently, and to give more abundantly.
9. Believers can practice biblical stewardship best in local churches. As you read the New Testament pattern of stewardship, you see that most of the abundant giving came through local churches. Such is and should be the pattern today.
10. The local church is the home base for evangelism. We gather for corporate worship and Bible study. But the best local churches then intentionally scatter to share the gospel with others.
I believe in the local church. I am not giving up on the local church. Too much is at stake. And God is not done with us.