Right now, in Podunk small town America, aka Cottageville, SC…it is 90 degrees with 54% humidity. According to weather.com it actually feels like 99 degrees with the heat index thrown in there for good measure.
For the last couple of weeks it has poured ridiculous amounts of rain on my 1.5 acres here in Cottageville, and has wreaked havoc to my yard. And by wreaked havoc, I mean it has caused my grass to grow probably a good foot and half tall making a walk across the yard extremely difficult (and frankly, unnerving…who knows what’s under that grass??).
But because it’s been raining so much it has been hard to find a time when I’m not otherwise busy, to go out and cut it.
“Today”, I told myself, “the grass must die.”
I walked out, gassed up the mower, and began to cut the grass.
It didn’t take long before exhaustion and dehydration began to set in. I found myself only being able to cut maybe 1/8th of the yard before I needed a break and some water. I thought for certain the bowl of Corn Chex I had for breakfast would’ve given me more to work with than this.
What I was experiencing was a situation of my own making. I had forgotten to do two (2) very simple, yet very important things before I walked out that door: 1) drink water and 2) eat some food.
I actually put myself at risk by going out and mowing the lawn without properly preparing my BODY for the WORK.
Let me say that again, because this is important, and is going to come up again before I’m through: I put myself at risk by going out and mowing the lawn without properly preparing my BODY for the WORK.
Was the work important? You better believe it. Otherwise my yard would look like a jungle in a matter of a few more days.
Was the work more important than my preparation of my body for the work? No it wasn’t. After all, had I hurt myself while I was out there completely unprepared, the work would not have been able to be done, and I would probably find myself laid up in a hospital bed somewhere trying to recover from heat stroke or some other exhaustion related ailment.
This is a true story…but, if you’re not prepared for what I’m about to say next…i.e. the truth, perhaps now is the time to click the X on this blog and tune out from this point forward because what I’m about to say will probably leave some toes and some egos really really…really really….really ridiculously hurt.
Still here? Good.
It has become a popular trend within the Church (universal), especially in the American Church, to intentionally neglect the preparation of the body and elevate the work above all things. And while the work is important, without the preparation, the Church puts itself in grave danger.
What I mean is this…it has become a popular idea that to be the Church we have be out working, and thus important things like the gathering of the assembly (local church gatherings) is not really as important as the work.
Which couldn’t be further from the truth.
You see, here is what God’s word says on the matter in Hebrews 10:25 NLT:
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
When we neglect the assembly of the local church body, we place the Church Body at great risk. And when the same people who have neglected the local church body assembly now go out and try to “do the work of the Church” they go out completely unprepared and they place themselves personally at risk for greater harm for not only themselves but for others as well.
You see, it is in the local church assembly where we eat and drink of the Word of God.
Where we eat and drink of accountability.
Where we eat and drink of submission to one another.
Where we eat and drink of the covering of local church authority.
Where we eat and drink of the presence of God through the outward expression of the corporate worship of His Church.
These things, and many more, are the very necessary nourishment that the connection to a local church body provides to a believer. Otherwise, they become anemic and sickly believers that, frankly, become repulsive to others.
I’ve heard out of the mouths of those who choose a more “nomadic” Church life rather than connect to a local church body the following words COUNTLESS times:
Where in the bible does it force me to go to Church?
Where in the bible does it tell me that I can’t be a Christian if I don’t go to church?
Well…let me answer that for you.
You are not being forced to attend local church gatherings just the same as no one is forcing you to eat food or drink water.
But, you do need to realize that just as neglecting to eat food or drink water has it’s consequences for your physical body, so there are consequences for neglecting to assemble with the local church body.
What dangers you may ask?
Well, Paul outlines the benefits of the gathering of the Church assembly in Ephesians 4:11-16. Logically, if these things are the benefits of gathering, then not gathering would produce the exact opposite.
So here are 10 dangers of neglecting to gather with the local church body:
- Lack of authority (v.11)
- Lack of unity of faith (v.12)
- Lack of unity in knowledge of Christ (v.12)
- Stunted maturity (v.13)
- Lack of the fullness of Christ (v.13)
- Develop improper doctrine (v.14)
- Easily deceived by man (v.14)
- Easy pray to schemes of the enemy (v.14)
- Stunted growth (v.15)
- Inability to work properly (v.16)
So…to you naysayers of the local church gathering, I simply have to say…you are asking the wrong questions.
The questions aren’t, “Where in the bible does it command me to go to church?” or “Where in the bible does it say I can’t be a Christian if I don’t go to church?”
Instead, you should be asking, “What am I risking by not connecting with the local church body?” and then examine that question through the lens of Scripture.
The answer may just surprise you.