If I were going to make a list of reasons to live in Pennsylvania (where I live now), October would be at the top of my list. The weather, the apple orchards, and of course, the beautiful changing leaves. Why do the leaves change color? Basically, it is the mix of sun, rain, and temperature. If you were to take the beautiful maple tree in my yard and transplant it to Phoenix, it would not produce the same vibrant beauty it does here in Pennsylvania. Why? Because it’s only getting sun. But isn’t sun important to make the leaves change color? Yes. But it is only part of the process.
Just like trees need sun and rain and the right temperature for change, Christians also need the right “ingredients” for change. God created the perfect environment for our spiritual growth–the church.
Advancements in technology have created an artificial environment for Christian growth. Love worship music? Download the latest praise album. Want to hear great preaching? Subscribe to podcasts by popular pastors. But these important parts, in isolation, are not enough. When we discussed the birth of the church, we saw what early believers did- “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). There was preaching, there was worship, but there was more. And to get more, we need each other.
Paul David Tripp defines the local church as “an intentionally intrusive, Christ centered, grace-based, redemptive community.” A preacher on a podcast can’t be intrusive in your life. The worship team who recorded an album didn’t specifically have you in mind as part of their audience. For real growth, you need a local church. You need the sanctifying experiences you will only get there.
How has God used the local church in your spiritual growth?
For more on this topic:
- “I’ve Never Been Mistaken for Brad Pitt“- a post by Tim Challies on the dangers of comparing your pastor to “celebrity” pastors you can listen to on-line or on the radio.
- “Why Church Membership” from the True Woman blog.
- Series from Desiring God on the local church, starting with “The Local Church: Indispensable.”