For people who believe in Jesus Christ, church is important, vitally important.
When I say that church is important, I’m not referring to a building. A church building is necessary, though a group of believers could gather out-of-doors, however a building is far more convenient. When a congregation grows it needs a special place to assemble. It is only normal that they would build a special place for themselves and they would want their building to have a distinctive architecture, glorify God, and host the many different programs they sponsor.
But, when I say church is important, I’m not talking about a building. I’m talking about the group of people that make up a congregation. Being part of a congregation is important, vitally important. However, a majority of people don’t agree with me.
Half of all people in a recent Barna Research survey said that church is “not too” or “not at all” important. Half of all people in another survey said that church has no positive impact in the community. And research indicates the trend to think church less important is increasing. Among Millennials (under 30), only two in ten say church is important. Still, I’m holding to my opinion that it is.
Social science research shows we do not have as much control over our thoughts and behavior as we might think. We take cues about how to act and think from people around us. Consider the concept of group polarization. The concept explains how like-minded people reinforce one another’s viewpoints. Groups help shape and strengthen our opinions. Perhaps my mother’s adage, “Show me your company and I’ll show you who you are,” was not so lame after all.
In his best-selling book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini uses the example of advertisers who tell us that a product is the “fastest-growing” or “best-selling.” Advertisers know they don’t have to persuade us that a product is good, only that other people think it is. Oops, I tried to do that in the opening sentence of this paragraph. Pardon me.
Church is important for Christians because it helps bend our morals and ethics to Christ’s ways and God’s will. Among the many things it does, church is a positive influence on our character and the shaping of our values. As Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
My point is: Church is vitally important for those who believe in Jesus Christ.
In Closing I Say,
Lift High the Cross