If we were to answer that question by examining how high (or low) a priority that many professing believers place upon the church (i.e. membership, public worship on the Lord’s day, serving in some capacity, inviting their friends and neighbors to church, commitment to financially supporting the work of the church, etc.), one might be led to believe that the church these days is not really very important at all. Sadly, it is becoming more and more common in our day for professing believers to have little or no firm connection to a local church.
If, likewise, we were to answer that question based upon the relative size of a given church, its influence upon the surrounding city or region, and how highly it is thought of (if it is even thought of at all) by outsiders/non-members, the church might seem even less important. After all, even the largest churches are barely a blip on the proverbial radar screen to most outsiders. They may drive by a particular church’s building on their way through town; they may know its name; they may have even darkened the door a time or two on a given holiday; but beyond that? Nada. Certainly there are exceptions, but they are just that in most cases – exceptions.
Despite all of that, I still believe in the church. I say that not because I am a pastor, but simply because I am a Christian.
What if I were to tell you that the church is so important that it is actually one of the chief tenets of the Christian faith! In fact, we confess a belief in the Christian church every time we recite the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed. One of the many things that the Apostles’ Creed says is, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints.” (The word “catholic” there means “universal,” not Roman Catholic.) Similarly, the Nicene Creed says, “And we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.”
In his book, The Good News That We Almost Forgot, Kevin DeYoung writes, “Perhaps we would be less likely to overlook the importance of the church if we paid more attention to the Apostles’ Creed.” Good point, and one that is often overlooked. Think about that for a moment – what are the creeds? They are basic statements of the essentials of the Christian faith – the non-negotiables, so to speak. Remove any one of the articles from the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed, and what you are left with is something substantially less than the true Christian faith. So a belief in the church is an essential part of the Christian faith. It is non-negotiable – you cannot just take it or leave it.
Do you believe in the church? If you are a Christian, you should. In fact you could even go so far as to say that you must. (Think about that next time you recite the Apostles’ Creed or the Nicene Creed!)