Christians need to question if they are growing or going backwards, as there's no other alternative, said Pastor Greg Laurie of megachurch Harvest Christian Center in his explanation of why believers and the Church need each other.
"If you're not growing as a Christian, if you're not advancing in your faith, that would begin the process of you going backwards," Laurie said as he began his message last week, as part of a series called, "What Every Growing Christian Needs to Know."
A believer doesn't backslide overnight; it's a slow, but sure, process, he said. Things of the world gradually start looking more appealing than things of God.
To keep growing, at least three things are required, the pastor shared.
To be a successful Christian, you must read, study and love God's Word, he said. "Success or failure in the Christian life depends on how much of God's Word you get into your life on a regular basis, and how obedient you are to it."
You must pray without ceasing, Laurie said, in order to be a successful Christian.
To be a successful Christian, you must be actively involved in the Church, Laurie told the congregation, saying that's the focus of his message.
The Church doesn't mean a building per se, but believers need to be in a place where God's people gather on a regular basis for worship, teaching and other wonderful things that the church does, he clarified.
Laurie quoted Hebrews 10:24, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the day approaching."
"How can you love God whom you can't see, if you do not love His people whom you can see?" the pastor asked. "Not going to church is proof that something is wrong with you spiritually," he stated, referring to 1 John 2:19.
We go to church to serve others, if we are mature Christians, he said, adding that we don't choose a church based on its facilities, or how good the singing or music is.
The Church exists for three reasons, Laurie shared: the glorification of God, the edification of the saints and the evangelization of the world.
The pastor said when his son died seven years ago, it was a Sunday, and he came to church. People later told him how strong he was that he didn't miss church even when he was grieving. But the pastor said he came to church that day because he felt very weak and he needed the Church.
Laurie then read Acts 2:42-47: "They devoted themselves to the Apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the Apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 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, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."
The first century Christians were W.E.L.L. — a worshiping Church, an evangelistic Church, a learning Church and a loving Church, Laurie said.
God inhabits the praises of His people, the pastor said, explaining the importance of corporate worship. We'll also be singing in Heaven, he added.
New believers are the lifeblood of the Church, the pastor said, speaking about the need for evangelism.
Bible exposition, or learning, is also an integral part of the Church, he added. People come to church to listen to the word of God. A church needs to teach well, and the congregation should learn to listen well, he stressed.
Fellowship is important too. We must not be in a hurry to leave the church right after the service is over, Pastor Laurie said, stressing the importance of loving fellow Christians.
We come to the church not like a consumer, but like a congregant who wants to glorify God, to serve and help other people out, he said in conclusion.