Dont’ be deceived. Leaving the church is not an option.

Staying connected to the body of believers is essential for Christian maturity by Arletia Mayfield aka The Prophetic Scribe.
Young couple with Bibles sitting on church pews portrait
Staying connected to the body of believers is essential for Christian maturity.

The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia which means assembly” or “called-out ones.” The meaning and intent of the “church” is not a building, but people.  Christ is the head of the Church, and the church is a BODY with many members. 

There are a lot of hurting Christians out there.  Many of them have left the church and at one time, I did the same thing.  However, I want to share some things I have learned through spiritual maturity:
When you leave the church, you disconnect from the BODY. We are supposed to be unified. Hebrews 10:25, Acts 4:32, Philippians 2:2, Romans 12:16, Romans 14:19, 1 Peter 3:8, Philippians 1:27, Ephesians 4:3. To achieve the unity spoken of in these passages, we have to stay in church (because that is where believers meet and fellowship and learn and grow together in Christ. It is also where we worship HIM corporately.)
I have learned that apart from the Ekklesia (church), there is only the world and the longer you stay away from the church, the more the world creeps into your soul, and its influence will begin to manifest in your thoughts, conversation and actions and influence your choices. Eventually, you will become a citizen of the world kingdom (thinking and believing as the world does). Jesus said anyone that chooses to be a friend of the world is an enemy of God (James 4:4).  In addition, when you still call yourself a Christian even though you do not attend church or have a lifestyle that reflects the beliefs of the Bible, it is confusing to non-believers. They think, “You act just like us; therefore, you Christians are a bunch of hypocrites.” I know because I have been hurt by people in the church and believed that I could have a relationship with God outside of the church too, but the truth is, I drifted away from God little by little until someone threw me a lifeline. (If you are like I was, maybe this article will be yours.)  I was not consistent, even on Sundays; I read the Bible sporadically and my prayers were hurried petitions while I drove to work.  Yes, I was still a Christian; just not a good representative of Christ or what he stands for. I even justified my distance by complaining about how hypocritical people in the church are, so I have compassion for Christians going through that phase, but I also have to tell you that it is a spiritually immature attitude to be mad at the church and take your gifts and leave because your feelings get hurt or someone offended you. God gave you those gifts to edify the body of Christ – that is the church; to use them for the world is spiritual adultery.
The church offers discipline, support and education. The more you partake of it (not just on Sunday’s), the more you are drawn to Christ and the more tolerant you become toward other believers in the church and this leads to understanding God’s love and the love we are supposed to have for each other.
If you are mad at the people in church, but you still consider yourself a follower of Christ, I have news for you.  You cannot hold a grudge against any believer. Matthew 18:15, Matthew 5:23. 1 John 4:20 says, “If any one say, I love God, and hate his brother, he is a liar: for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?”
LOVE IS THE PRINCIPLE THING. No one said it would be easy. Every single one of us has faults and flaws and every believer has been forgiven, so for that reason, we MUST learn to have compassion and forgive others as we have been forgiven (Luke 17:3-4; Matthew 18). We have to forsake ourselves and lay down our lives for each other because there is no greater love than this. 1 John 3:16, John 15:13.  Yes, it is a sacrifice, but isn’t that what Christianity is based upon?  Sacrifice is a necessary attribute to develop to become a mature Christian.  Jesus said,  If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends.  Matthew 5:46-48 NLT

We are commanded to prefer one another, love one another and be willing to put our brothers and sisters before ourselves. This is the Word of God. THIS IS LOVE…and the evidence of a mature Christian.  This is the love that will keep you connected to the church.
WE ARE THE CHURCH, so I’m specifically addressing the need for Christian unity, whether it be in small groups that meet regularly for Bible Study, Prayer and Fellowship or another type of Ministry that you are actively engaged in – including the church house.
p.s.  This article is mainly for people that leave the church for the wrong reasons and don’t stay connected to the Word (Jesus) through the Bible or God’s people (or worse, they become the worst critics of the church and slander the church, the people of God and His leaders).  This article is NOT directed at people who are being God-directed (to perhaps start a ministry or be involved in another ministry where the Holy Bible is taught and Jesus is Lord).  When I say church, I am referring to the body of believers and wherever we congregate.  We need to have accountability to others with the same beliefs. This is how we become the CHURCH or BRIDE that the FATHER desires.
The Prophetic Scribe

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Arletia Mayfield aka The Prophetic Scribe is an ordained minister, missionary, chaplain and Bible teacher. She is an author and the publisher of TPS Publications providing resources and tools to creatively share the Good News of the Gospel of  Jesus Christ.