I had to take a car trip to Olympia by myself this past week. While driving, I listened to the audiobook, “Longing for God”, by Richard J Foster and Gayle D Beebe. In the book the authors identify what they call “Seven paths of Christian Devotion.” Each of these paths can be describe as a methodology or process of internal spiritual growth. For each path the authors introduce the thoughts and ideas of three or four past Christian leaders. In listening a quote from Jon Wesley caught my attention and is the impetus of this article. John Wesley said, “The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion.” For a more modern quote, Kevin DeYoung writes, “The man who attempts Christianity without the church shoots himself in the foot, shoots his children in the leg, and shoots his grandchildren in the heart.” This comes from his book, “The Hole in Our Holiness”. Similar to “Longing for God”, Kevin writes about Holiness in terms of internal spiritual growth too.
Think about that. Longing for God, Following Christ, and being a Biblical Christian cannot be done outside of active involvement within the body of Christ, the church! When you attempt it you harm yourself and often cripple the generations that follow you. Unfortunately, this is becoming all the more common today. Too often many Christians are fickle and become church vagabonds—think of the train hoppers of old. Christians who spend a couple of months at one church, then hop to another when they get bored, offended, or are otherwise unsatisfied with something. Typically, these individuals don’t contribute too much to the body, they settle on the fringes, and treat church as a convenience store rather than an assembly of the called out for God. Christians are not supposed to do this alone. Church is supposed to be a place of sharpening (Proverbs 21:17), encouragement (Hebrews 10:24-25), growth (Ephesians 3:17b-19) and unity (John 17:20-23). Likewise, those who attempt to be Churchless Christians have completely missed the fact that even Jesus functioned within community. You cannot have fellowship or discipleship by yourself.
Do me a favor, take a look at your life. Are you churchless? A vagabond? Or, are you actively engaged and functioning within the body of Christ?