As Jesus prepared to ascend to the right hand of God (the position of authority), he said to His followers, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” The word disciple literally means “one who follows after.” A disciple is someone who follows after Jesus. The community of existing disciples are the only ones empowered to make new disciples of Jesus.
While a recent poll suggests that 80% of people believe they can be a good Christian without being part of a local congregation, this belief is absolutely opposed by the Bible itself. A solo Christian is no Christian. Consider the following sample of Biblical passages:
- “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” – Hebrew 10:25
- “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. … If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable … But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” – 1 Corinthians 12:14-26 (excerpts)
- “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” – Romans 12:4-5
- “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.” – Romans 12:16
- “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:1-3
- “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” – Ephesians 5:15-21
Community is where we grow through Bible study, shared prayer, service, and mutual support and challenge. Community is God’s chosen way for us grow in discipleship through corporate worship, listening to the Scriptures (faith comes by hearing–Romans 10:17) and having them interpreted by a trained pastor. It is where we learn to serve others in love and enter into relationship of accountability with other Christians. It is also where we are drawn out of trust in ourselves by giving to the work God is doing in and through His Church.