We are living in a day and time that attitudes towards the local church is becoming more corrupt and indifferent. Some say that the church is not essential to salvation; that you do not have to belong to a church to be saved. I understand they mean a local church. Many people think the significance of the church is reduced to a society of insecure social misfits. One reason for this is because many preachers and teachers are teaching the social gospel. This is meant to draw those with particular social needs. This is not limited to only the denominational world, but it can be found in loose churches of Christ. Sound words of God taught to condemn, form, make right, and save souls, are substituted with flowery, touchy-feely, feel good, tickle the ear type teaching. The end of the gospel of Christ is not to make this world a better place to live; however the ideals of the gospel practiced by all people would make many things better. The end of the gospel is to provide spiritual needs, save souls, and take them home to a better place in heaven.
The following are some things that show the local church is necessary.
1.) Paul wrote how a church member is to conduct himself in the church. ". . . but in case I am delayed, I write so that you may know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth." (1 Timothy 3:15. NASB). This implies that a church member has responsibility to the local church. There are at least thirteen epistles (letters) that Paul wrote. In every one of these there are duties and responsibilities for members of the church. Some duties and responsibilities are when the church is not assembled, some are when the church is assembled, and others are both. The member of the church must respond to both, that is, including those when the church is assembled. I emphasize in the assembly, for many people feel that these duties are not necessary or important. However Paul said, "If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord's commandment." (1 Cor. 14:37 NASB)
When the church gathers together to honor and worship God, He has provided the way for this to be done. God has not left it up to you and I to decide the worship we offer Him. "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:24 NASB). John 4 verse 23 says that those who worship God in this way are "true worshipers." If there are true worshipers, there are false worshipers. We learn how to worship God in the truth, through the truth. Jesus said, "Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth." (John 17:17 NASB).
2.) The church is the pillar and support of the truth. 1 Timothy 3:15. There is no other body of people who have been given the honor and responsibility to collectively uphold the truth. This must refer to the local church. Notwithstanding the controversial issues of church cooperation, the local church is the way the word of God clearly shows church or collective action. A family or household in which there is no communication between members, no working together, no cooperation, and no organic structure, this is a non-functioning entity. The local church has all of these.
Regardless of secular education, God in His wisdom gave to the church, the only body of people, the responsibility to uphold His truth. God did not give this responsibility to bible colleges, missionary societies, jubilees, camp retreats, church member periodical papers, or even this paper. The church and only the church is fit to carry out the work God has planned for it: to be a pillar and support of the truth. Jesus said, ". . . and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it." (Matt. 16:18 NASB). If the church of Christ fails to be the pillar and support of the truth, there is no other organization that can, for no man can make or establish an organization greater than Christ's.
3.) The relationship between the church and Jesus Christ is inseparable; but the church does not save the soul; the gospel saves, Romans 1:16; James 1:21. Jesus who is the head of the church teaches us that we are to edify one another. This is each member's responsibility, Ephesians 4:14-16. Each member has a part to play in the growth of other members. If we reject this instruction, we reject Christ, "and there is salvation in no one else," (Acts 4:12. NASB). Since the power of edifying or building up is in the word of God (Acts 20:32), our example of obedience to God's word regarding assembling with the saints, will become one of our first teachers. ". . . not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near." (Heb. 10:25 NASB). Every saint is important and every saint can do their part in causing growth among members by being a good example in church attendance. Participating in prayer, singing, Lord's Supper, giving, and preaching, according to the word of God in the church, are all deeds to edify the church. 1 Cor. 14:12-16; Eph 5:19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1&2; Acts 2:42.