The Importance of the Local Church
By: Apostle Skhumbuzo Sangweni
This will be a season of gathering together for the mobilization of the army of God. Many Christians who have slipped away from fellowship in the body of Christ will be gathered back into fellowship. Many churches will be joined to larger movements, which will help give them more definition, focus, and a greater sense of their purpose. Many movements will join with other movements, and even denominations will begin to develop relationships with other denominations.
This great gathering together is from the Lord. Isolation or loneliness was the first thing the Lord said was not good. Mankind was created with the need of community, and we will have a void in our lives if we are not a vital part of a community. The body of Christ, as it was designed to be and as it will be, is the ultimate community. There is nothing else like it in all of creation, and as it emerges in its ultimate form, it will be the desire of every human being to be a part of such a fellowship.
None of us will ever know complete peace or fulfillment until we are in the place we were called to be in the Lord’s body, His church. This is because we cannot be properly joined to the Head, Jesus, without also being properly joined to His body. Just as the Apostle John wrote in I John 4:20-21, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
Like it or not, without all of the frustrations and irritations that come with the true commitment to a local body of believers, there is a serious limit on our spiritual maturity. We would like for the church to mature and get over all of its problems before we join it, but then we would miss out on what we need for our maturity and growth. If we are waiting for the church to mature before we join it, by the time it gets to the place where it would be acceptable to us, it will be so far down the road that we will never catch up to it.
A vital, local church life is essential for true spiritual maturity. We can grow in knowledge without it; we can still have spiritual experiences and even operate in the gifts of the Spirit, but we will be limited in our true maturity in Christ, and the authority we can be trusted with. In the times to come, even survival itself will be dependent on our being a vital part of the body of Christ.