What is the Role of the Local Church in Following Christ? - Radical

What is the Role of the Local Church in Following Christ?

Can the church actually help me grow in my walk with Christ? Why does my church attendance matter? In this video, David Platt explains five ways the local church aids believers in their devotion to Jesus Christ. Within the local church, believers mutually encourage each other as they love, serve, and participate in mercy ministry. Hearing the preached Word and participating in public worship turns the believer’s heart towards God. Church attendance also reminds believers of their mutual reliance on one another for encouragement, support, and prayer. While each Christian is on their own journey, church attendance is crucial to aiding the believer’s walk with Christ, equipping, encouraging, and strengthening them for whatever God has in store.

  1. Encouraging One Another
  2. Loving and Serving Others
  3. Preaching
  4. Mercy Ministry
  5. Mutual Reliance

What is the Role of the Local Church?

So David, as the pastor of a local church, what role does that local body of believers play in our following Christ?

Well, the church is non-negotiable in this process. What it means to live a life of devotion to Christ, the life of a Christian, which I think maybe we can talk about is, I think, pretty radical in this world. It can’t happen apart from devotion to the church. And I would even go so far as to say, I just preached on this, that came up this last Sunday when I was preaching through First Corinthians, but I don’t think it’s possible to really, truly follow Christ and grow in Christ apart from being a member of a local church.

And by member, I don’t mean just having your name on a roll somewhere. I mean committed to a body of believers. We all need that. I think biblically that’s there. I think you look, well, the New Testament, what is it, like 114 times or so that ecclesia, the word for church, there is mentioned. And 90 of those times are references to local gatherings of believers, bodies of believers that are committed together, worshiping together, spurring one another on toward Christ that there’s a picture.

Devotion and Membership in the Local Church

I mean, certainly membership in the church is implied by things like church discipline, in Matthew 18, First Corinthians five, church leadership, Hebrews 13, like, obey Your leaders. Submit to their authority. That certainly seems to be a local church kind of picture. So all that to say, my hope is that people who read Radical, I get concerned if somebody reads Radical and they begin to react against the church. That’s the last thing I want. I want to encourage people who read Radical or just encourage people, period, to love the church and serve the church well. Which is why right after Radical took off, the first thing I did is said, okay, I want to write just kind of a follow up derivative kind of work that is called Radical Together, but is pointing people to local churches.

So local churches where they’re with a body of believers who is encouraging them, helping guard them from taking things to ends that the Bible doesn’t take us to, under the leadership of pastors who care for them and love them, in that context, just like we do in the context of the Church of Brook Hills to follow leadership of pastors. At the same time, I want to speak to pastors, to church leaders and say, “Okay, we preach this book, but do we believe this book? And what does this look like?” If there’s an urgency for the great commission, we want to see disciples made in every nation, and this is a central command we’ve been given. Then okay, how’s this playing out in the church? Are we most effectively making disciples of all nations? And if not, are willing to make some changes in the church in order to make that primary?

The Body of Christ in the Local Church

When we come to Second Corinthians eight and nine, or James two, and we see this picture of the New Testament church on care for, concern for the poor, and obviously that’s something that’s reflected all throughout scripture. Okay. Is this reflected in our church budgets? And so, Radical together, was like an attempt to say, okay, here’s some things to point people to the church, because we can’t do this apart from a body of believers. In fact, we’ll miss the whole point of what it means to follow Christ if we do that apart from commitment to a local church.

So if somebody comes to you and says, “I want to forsake all. I want to follow Christ, but I think I can do that on my own.” Then what would the big dangers be? How would you counsel that person?

Fundamentally I’d say, well, the church is the body of Christ. The church is the bride of Christ. You’re not going to be around me very long before you’re going to encounter my bride. I’m one flesh with my bride. I mean, we’re together. And so Jesus can’t be disconnected from his church. It’s impossible. It can’t be disconnected from his body. He’s the head. We’re members of the church of which he is the head. And so I would say, okay, if you think you can forsake all and follow Christ apart from the church, then you’ve actually missed what it means to follow Christ in the first place.

And you need other believers. You need pastors, and shepherds in your life who are helping walk you through what it means to follow Christ. And they need you. Other believers need you. A fundamental part of following Christ is serving brothers and sisters in Christ. And the Christian life is totally incomplete without a commitment to serving brothers and sisters in Christ in the local church. And so, radical devotion to Christ is going to involve radical commitment to the church.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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