Yesterday at a group function that many fellow RBC Bible college students attend, we discussed the importance of church. At one point the question was asked how important it is to be involved, or engaged, or active in church life. We generally agreed that church ministries/outreach programs on a corporate level, are best kept at a minimum. Busyness is not what we are aiming for. Productive, God honoring service and obedience to His will is what we must strive for.
I would argue that work itself is a service to God, and therefore a service to the church, which is the temple of God. Whenever we study at school, unto the Lord, whenever we do our jobs that we get paid for, unto the Lord, we are serving Him, and serving others. Through these fields we often find the opportunity to share the gospel and to spread the Light before other men, so they may see our good works. Through our jobs and hobbies we fulfill the cultural mandate, we subdue the earth. Through our familial obligations we show the love of Christ and evangelize and sanctify our children and spouses.
And yet, there is a reason the Bible commands us to stay in church. Hebrews 10 states:
24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
We cannot say this was merely a cultural command, as if the early church people needed this but we, with our greater enlightening and sensibility, do not. The text even says "so much the more as you see the Day approaching!" If anything, we need to gather together more than they did!
We also see the explicit need for gathering together regularly. Through the physical gathering of believers, and that alone, can we find true Christian fellowship and come together, each being a brick of the temple of God, to worship Him, and to be fed. While together in a place that is meant to be for believers only, we can discuss our needs, love one another, and stir one another up to good works. As a day of rest, it can be a peaceful time, a taste of heaven even, where the elect gather together to celebrate Jesus and enjoy His blessings.
Ephesians 4:11-13 speaks of some being called, such as evangelists, pastors, and teachers, for "the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." But notice these are to equip the saints for the work of ministry. This means that at church, where we come across our pastors and teachers and evangelists, we are fed and learn how to live like Christians. We learn sound doctrine so we can know the God we are serving more intimately, and knowing His desires and wants more intimately, we can live for Him more accurately, passionately, and intentionally. These are reasons we must stay in church.
We are also called to take care of the body of Christ. Particularly in our local church, we need to be meeting the needs, spiritual and physical, of other believers (Rom. 12:13). We can do that through tithes and offerings, at minimum, but we should be gracious and as time allows consider other burdens our fellow believers may have. This, however, does not mean we must start programs to take care of such needs. That can be done, but individuals should be willing to do this on their own, some indeed have been given this very gift/calling in a special way (Rom 12:8, 1 Cor. 12:28) compared to others who were not called in that way. How can the needs be met if we are not attending church? How can our needs be met, and how can we meet the needs of others, if we are not gathering together corporately? They cannot.
There is no such thing as the lone ranger Christian, at least there should not be. God created things so that we would be interdependent. And by being interdependent on one another, we are being dependent on Him, who has given each of us the gifts that we have, and use, to minister to one another with and edify the body of Christ.
One final point. This shouldn't be about how much time we put in in church service. In other words, as stated earlier, working, going to school, taking care of your family, that shouldn't be compartmentalized as outside of the church, outside the body of Christ. That counts as service! So whether or not you join a formal organization or ministry within your church, really doesn't matter, unless you are called to and are refusing the call. What does matter is that you attend church regularly, read the Word, stay in prayer, minister to fellow believers as opportunity arises and as you feel led, and pay your tithes (which is also a form of service I would argue). I think once we add to this, we add to the Word of God. Let each one live according to the gifts and calling God has given them.