Do I Have to Join a Congregation?

Some people ask: “If I read the Bible and pray, why do I have to join a local church?”  Well, to receive forgiveness of sins (salvation), one does not have to join a congregation. However, there are many reasons why one should. Here are a few:

  1. Yeshua’s Intention – right after Simon Kefa’s (Peter) statement of faith, Yeshua responded by saying, “on this rock I will build my kehila (ecclesia, church)” – Matthew 16:18.  How can one say he is committed to follow Yeshua, but not cooperate with Yeshua’s intention to build His church?
  2. Spiritual Warfare – in the same passage Yeshua says that the “gates of hell will not prevail against it” – Matthew 16:18.  Within a godly community of faith, there should be spiritual authority to protect us from attacks of the devil.
    If one is not part of a godly faith community, he is needlessly exposed to demonic attacks.
  3. Response to Gospel – In Peter’s first message, he encouraged the people to repent, be immersed in water, and receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).  Those who were saved, immediately joined the community of faith (“were added to them” – Acts 2:41 and 47). Their response to the gospel was a deep commitment to the Lord and His community on earth (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-35).
  4. United Prayer – Peter was arrested and put in prison, but was supernaturally set free by direct angelic intervention (Acts 12:3).  One of the reasons for that miracle was “at the time Peter was in jail, the church offered strong prayer for him to God” – Acts 12:5. United prayer is stronger than individual prayer.  United prayer happens within the community of faith (Matthew 18:19).
  5. Moral Accountability – As followers of Yeshua, we are to live according to principles of faithfulness and integrity. When we sin, our brothers and sisters are to help us out by counsel and confrontation. This is supposed to happen within the congregation (Matthew 18:15-19).  If there is no commitment to a community of faith, there is no framework of relationships to hold one another to moral accountability.
  6. Elders in Every City – Throughout the travels and ministry of Paul (Saul), we see a recurrent pattern: prayer, evangelistic preaching, gathering the new believers into a congregation, appointing elders.  “In every church they appointed elders…” – Acts 14:23. In every place and every city, the believers joined a community with leaders having spiritual authority.  There is no other pattern in Scripture.
  7. Pauline Epistles – It is ironic that some justify not joining a congregation by quoting verses from the epistles of Paul.  Yet most of Paul’s epistles – Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians – were addressed to local churches.  We are to read the epistles as members of a local congregation.
  8. Gifts of the Spirit – Others refer to their being led personally and independently by the Holy Spirit. Certainly the Holy Spirit leads each of us individually.  However the primary explanation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is found in I Corinthians 12-14.  There we find that ALL of the gifts are ALWAYS for strengthening a local congregation of faith (I Corinthians 12:4, 14, 26, 14:4, 5, 12, 26). 
  9. Yeshua’s Epistles – Not only did Paul write letters to local congregations, so did Yeshua!  In Revelation 2-3, we find Yeshua’s epistles to 7 different churches.  It was obviously His expectation that ALL of His followers would be members of local congregations.
  10. Universal Ecclesia – A local congregation is a cell or body part of the greater Body of Messiah.  In that way, we participate in Yeshua’s headship (Ephesians 1:22), displaying the wisdom of God (Ephesians 3:10), receiving the glory of God (Ephesians 3:21), revealing the mystery of the “bride” (Ephesians 5:25), and maintaining the pillar of truth in the world (I Timothy 3:15).

A local church congregation may meet in its own building, or in someone’s home, or secretly in the middle of a forest! But the basic principles don’t change. May we all find a good “family home” as part of a local community of faith in Yeshua!

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By | 2016-12-04T16:28:04+00:00 February 4th, 2016|Tags: , , |3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Kalle February 10, 2016 at 08:27

    I think that this is important topic,cause new believers need to know that if one coal is aloe it will fade cause it need always group of coal to be hot. I know that sheep needs its flock to be secure against wolfs. Yes we are one in globally but we need to have our family and family is one that keep us secure. thanks and blessings.

  2. Alex2 February 7, 2016 at 17:22

    Of course everyone should be united to a local congregation and community. The universal church is the greater body however and we can also minister to the world at large as individuals since Jesus will be with us as we go into all the world (Mt. 28.20). This is part of the New Covenant blessings what we have in Christ (2Pet. 1.3).

    Jesus is building His church not churches. There is only “one body” (Eph. 4.4). This is the universal church. The New Covenant gives each believer a personal relationship with the Father, Jesus, and the Spirit. This is what Jesus prayed for in John 17.21: “that they will be in us.” This was the promise of Jer. 31.31 that no longer would folks have the Aaronic priests to go through or the Levites to teach them. Some times the priests were good but we needed a perfect priest (Jesus).

    How can you say Jesus said that specific Aramaic word? Jesus may have spoken Aramaic but it is not recorded for us the word “church.” Matthew’s word’s were what the Spirit reminded him what happened and were translated to Greek. A distinct ministry to Jesus’ disciples is spoken of in John 16.12 (I have much more to say to you). John 16.12-15 is directed to the immediate disciples. Matthew’s words were Greek, so that is what was given as a record for posterity. The LXX was some 250 years prior to prepare for preaching to gentiles (if we look in retrospect as one part of their production).

    Jesus prays for every believer to keep them safe from the evil one (John 17.15) Of course the blessings and prayers of other believers help.

    • Andrew February 8, 2016 at 17:10

      Shalom Alex2 and thanks for your comment!

      I’m not sure if I’m seeing where we disagree, if at all. This article was not meant to diminish the idea of being an international body or community of believers, but rather to encourage people to continue to be committed to a local body of believers for the reasons listed. This was largely in response to the many times that we have heard people say that they don’t need to be committed or even associated with a local congregation, an opinion with which we wholeheartedly disagree. We’re not saying that it’s not possible to be a good believer without being committed to a local fellowship, but we are saying that it’s a lot harder and unnecessarily so.

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