- The Local Church:
God’s chosen people, the Church, is made up of all true Christians everywhere, but is manifested in local churches. Until we are in fellowship with a local church we are not truly in fellowship with the universal Church.
We are disciples of Christ. But since Christ went back to heaven He disciples us by His Holy Spirit through His Body the Church. We cannot receive this discipleship without connection to a local church. So local church membership is vital to our walk with Christ.
Read and discuss: Acts 2:41-42
What are some dangers you can think of for Christians who don’t join a local church but just go around visiting various churches?
(They will tend to isolate themselves. They will be more easily led into deception. If they fall into sin they will not have anyone to keep them accountable and restore them.)
- Attendance and Involvement:
Joining a church will do us no good if we do not get involved. We must do more than attend a church on Sunday mornings. We must commit to be involved with all the corporate activities of the church, including worship services, Bible studies, prayer meetings and outreaches. We must devote ourselves to attendance and involvement.
Read and discuss: Hebrews 10:24-25
What habits, hobbies or activities in your life do you need to change because they might interfere with faithfully attendance and involvement in a local church?
- Accountability and Responsibility:
True fellowship is uncomfortable. When we are close to people we begin to see their faults and weaknesses. What is even more difficult is that they can see clearly our weaknesses and failures. This can be embarrassing and humbling for everyone involved. But genuine fellowship is one of God’s ways of sanctifying us and using us to help sanctify others. By speaking the truth in love to one another we help each other to grow in holiness and Christlikeness.
Read and Discuss: John 13:2-15
In almost every book of the New Testament a great emphasis is put on forgiving one another; how do you think this relates to fellowship in the local church?
(Since we are close and imperfect we will surely hurt and offend each other often, forgiveness is the divine remedy to bitterness and division.)
- Submission to Leadership:
God has not only given local churches leaders in order to teach them the truth of God’s word, but has also placed them there to lead the church through various trials, temptations and seasons of life. There are many ministries and organizations that benefit the Body of Christ that will bless us throughout the years, but God has given us local churches and local church leadership to shepherd us through all the seasons of life.
Read and discuss: Hebrews 13:17
Why do you think that we need leaders in our lives that know us personally and care about us?
(People who don’t know us or care about us will in ignorance give us bad advice, or worse, will just tell us what we want to hear in order to win our approval.)
- Ministry and Commission:
We are established in the truth through the leaders of our local church, and in this way we avoid falling into various false teachings and straying from the Apostolic Gospel, but this is not the only reason we learn truth. Truth also equips us to be faithful servants to the other people in our church as well as the lost world around us.
Read and discuss: Ephesians 4:15-16
Which is more important, loving people or speaking the truth to them?
(Of course both work in unison. The truth sets people free, and since we love them we want them to be free.)
- Financial Commitment:
We are called to share life and ministry together in the local church. One important part of life and ministry is finances. We all have times when we need financial help. And our church will often face financial needs while seeking to take the Gospel to all people. For this reason God expects us to bear one another’s burdens, not only in forgiving one another, but also sharing our resources. As God’s family, and God’s army, He expects us to help the poor among us. He also requires that we help support those that faithfully minister the Word of God to us. And we are also expected to do our share in helping with the day to day costs (rent, electricity, etc.) of our church.
Read and discuss: Acts 4:32, Galatians 6:6, Galatians 6:10
What attitudes or habits will tempt you to be unfaithful in the area of financially supporting your local church?