In the 11 years since I graduated high school I have packed my belongings in cardboard boxes and moved 14 times. In dorms, out of dorms, out of my parent’s home, back in again, into storage units, and across the country. Home has been a fluid term for most of my adult life. There has been, however, one constant: the local church. Each place I have lived I found a home with the local body of Christ. I experienced a place where I could belong, I could explore life and my faith, and I could grow. The local church was home even when I didn’t have a house.
We are told today the local church is losing value. Research has found that a growing number of Americans, both old and young, are leaving at unprecedented rates. Is the body of Christ really losing value, or is it just as important today as it has been throughout history? In my own life, I believe its’ value is eternally increasing both in individuals and society. Here are three reasons why I believe in it’s ever expanding worth:
- The local church is a place to belong – One of the worst things in life is being somewhere and knowing that you don’t belong, like a fish out of water. The beautiful thing is that the sense of home and belonging created by the church does not end when you leave the property. When I buy in and choose to be committed to the community of saints what I have found is that I am always home. Whether I am 1,000 miles away home or in someone else’s house, I know that I belong.
- The local church is a place to explore – I did most of my questioning of life in my childhood home. Whether I was figuring out what happens when I touch a hot stove to questioning my purpose in life, I knew I was in a safe place to ask hard questions. The local church is the same, when we are struggling with temptation and sin, doubting and questioning God, or rejoicing in how God has blessed us, there is no better place.
- The local church is a place to grow – I am who I am today because of my spiritual home. Growing hurts, but my local church allowed me to experience those growing pains and never stopped supporting me. Growing is messy, but my church family got messy with me as I matured in my faith. Growth brings healing as we outgrow our scars and wounds. I found within the local church a place to heal and grow out of my old scars and wounds. We often give into the pressure of pretending to have it all together. The local church is a place where we can be a mess and find grace as we grow in life.
Do you agree? Why is the local church important to you?
How have you experienced the value of the local church in your life?
Rick Kohl has been married to Christy for 4 years, they have 2 dogs and live in Bainbridge, Georgia. Rick serves as the senior pastor of Bainbridge First Church of God. He’s a Netflix addict, a wannabe grill-master, and is religiously devoted to The Ohio State University.