Church. Local.

A few years back I wrote an article called Out of Town Church'in. In it, I tried to encourage people to go to church in the community they live in. From the comments that I received regarding it, I think it was the most unpopular article I have ever written. And looking around my town, I don't think it worked on too many people. So this time I am going to try to make the point in a more proactive and even more offensive way. Offensive only in that I am going to more adamantly state a truth that is offensive in the hope that some of you reading this will start going to church in the community you live in.

You need to go to church in the town you live in.

The church needs that. And if you claim to be a Christian, you should be concerned about what the church needs. You spiritual life, whether you recognize it or not, needs that.

If the purpose of going to church is for you to be entertained or for you to enjoy the best programs, then by all means, find the best church and drive to another town to go to it. Churches with better programs and a slicker presentation are out there.

Maybe you go to an out-of-town church because you grew up in that church, your family goes there, or you went to that church when you previously lived in that town. I understand all of those reasons, but the truth is that you moved. You moved. You chose to move, so switch churches to a local one. The town you live in now needs you to go to church in it. And your spiritual life needs you to live in close proximity with the Christians you worship, study, pray, and serve with.

Church is not something you go to. At its heart, church is all about relationships. It's something you are when you have given your life over to Jesus and are in relationships with brothers and sisters in Him. Church is about loving your neighbors and your community. Those things won’t be done in the community you live in if a lot of the Christians go to churches outside of that community.

Because that out-of-town church with the nice programs, your family, the proper doctrines, or the charismatic preacher won't help the community you live in. They aren't focused on reaching your community for Jesus. They're focused, like they should be, on reaching the community they have been placed in for Jesus. See how it works. A church works to reach the community it is in, and you work through a church to also reach the community you are in.

Now, I understand that you can be all-out crazy in ministering to the community you live in when you go to church in another town, but I don’t see that happening much. I don’t see any of the larger churches that pull people from other towns investing money ministering back to people not in their town.

I agree that churches in communities outside of your town have better preachers. That’s nothing against the preachers in your town, but there are always better speakers out there. I agree that churches outside of your town can provide better programs for your children although I am sure that the churches in your town all try their best with what they have to fill that need. I agree that churches outside of your town have better facilities, but I don't really think facilities are something that we should be all that worried about.

None of those reasons are good enough reasons for a person to go to church outside of your town. This is true if you live in my town of Antwerp. It's also true in Payne, in Paulding, Woodburn, and New Haven. Wherever you live, it is important to go to church in that town. Antwerp needs Antwerp Christians to be the church in Antwerp if the people in Antwerp are going to see Jesus through its churches. The Christians in your town need to be involved in ministering to your town if your town is going to be reached for Jesus. The good churches from other towns aren’t going to be interested in ministering to your town. And we aren’t going to be the recipients of missionaries from overseas to minister to our towns. The missionaries for our towns are you and me.

What I hope to convince you of is that God intends for you - your time, your energy, your sweat, your passion, your prayers - to be part of His plan in ministering to the town you live in. God brings His will into our reality through people like you and me.

The people in your community need Christians loving them through the churches in your community. You are an important part of that because the church is only people who are in relationship with one another under the Lordship of Jesus. That is how the Kingdom of God grows. Please, go to church where you live. It's better for you. It's better for God's kingdom. It's better for your town. It really is better all around.