God's Word says, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching (Heb 10:24,25)."
1. What is a local church?
A local church is not just a Bible Study. It's not just a few believers getting together for prayer.
The local church is much more than that. The scriptures are replete with passages outlining the elements of a true New Testament local Church. Read Ephesians 4:11-16.
A local church is a family of believers, saints, (set apart believers living holy lives), a pastor, elders (mature believers called to 5 fold ministry, apostle, prophet, evangelist, teachers) and deacons who congregate regularly for worship and covenant together to work together to glorify God and edify one another while extending God's Kingdom.
I have asked some of my relatives on Sunday afternoon, "Did you go to church today." Yeah, I had church right here at home watching so and so." No that is not church. It might even be a great message, but it isn't church.
Watching our favorite T.V. evangelist a thousand miles away does not make us a member of a local church. Joining an internet church is not what God had in mind either. He ordained real live, people getting together and interacting with each other and developing real relationships. He envisions in His Word people, who will stand together through the thick and thin of life; people who encourage one another, pray for one another, help one another, bless on another, and serve God along side each other. All of the "one anothers" of the Bible can only be fulfilled as we get together.
A local church is a household. "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God (Eph 2:19)." Notice that the Apostle Paul tells us that as believers we are:
(1) Fellow Citizens. This means we are citizens of the Kingdom of God . It's like being an American citizen. If we're born in America we're American citizens. If we're born again into the Kingdom of God we're citizens of the Kingdom of God .
2) Members of the household of God. Notice it says "Household." Not "Households" There are no mistakes in the Word of God. A household is a family, in other words those abiding under one roof. Household is referring to the local church. Just as every family unit is unique, every local church is unique. Some families are large, some are small. A large family is not more significant than a small family. It is just different in population. Similarly local churches vary is size and uniqueness of membership and function. God loves every household of believers. Just as every family must have a husband and a wife, so also every church must have a pastor and saints.
When we jump from one household to another it's like a child divorcing his parents and staying with one friend one night and another friend another night. This child has no stability and he will be underdeveloped mentally and emotionally. Believers who hop from one church to another without being planted are undeveloped, and immature.
Hopefully through these analogies you can see the importance of being in a true local church; one that has a pastor, apostolic oversight, elders, deacons, and other believers. The Lord ordained the church so we can be built up in love, grow up in all things, and bless others. (Eph. 4:12-16. If you aren't in a local church that has a pastor and elders that teach the whole counsel of God's Word, then be sure to pray and ask God to help you find one this week.
Oh, that all God's children would see the importance of the local church. I'll write more on this topic next week. May the Lord richly bless you,
Bishop Darrell Ellis
Anointed Word International Fellowship