As you probably already know, Rick Warren is a big champion of the vitality of community through small groups. In today's "Daily Hope," his daily email newsletter that goes to people all over the world, Warren speaks specifically about this value of belonging. I'm quoting it here because this is something you may want to stick in your files for a time when you will be speaking about the value of group life.
"Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples." (John 13:35 NLT)Good words, huh?
The Bible says a Christian without a church home is like an organ without a body, a sheep without a flock, or a child without a family. It is an unnatural state. The Bible says, “You belong in God’s household with every other Christian” (Ephesians 2:19b LB).
Today’s culture of independent individualism has created many spiritual orphans—“bunny believers” who hop around from one church to another without any identity, accountability, or commitment. Many believe it is possible to be a “good Christian” without joining (or even attending) a local church, but God would strongly disagree.
The church is so significant that Jesus died on the cross for it: “Christ loved the church and gave his life for it” (Ephesians 5:25 GW).
Except for a few important exceptions referring to all believers throughout history, almost every time the word "church" is used in the Bible it refers to a local, visible congregation.
The New Testament assumes membership in a local congregation. The only Christians not members of a local fellowship were those under church discipline who had been removed from the fellowship because of gross public sin (1 Corinthians 5:1-13; Galatians 6:1-5).
The Bible offers many compelling reasons why you need to be committed and active in a local fellowship.
A church family identifies you as a genuine believer. I can’t claim to follow Christ if I’m not committed to any specific group of disciples. Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35 NLT).
When we come together in love as a church family from different backgrounds, race, and social status, it is a witness to the world (Galatians 3:28 MSG; see also John 17:21).
MORE ON AUTHENTIC COMMUNITY
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Mannequin Small Groups
What Counts as a Church?
Do small groups divide the church?