Since the Protestant Reformation of the 1500s and 1600s, the notion has spread among denominationalists and their recent offspring, community churches, that the church is not really important.
This comes from a misunderstanding of what the Bible teaches about the church that Jesus built. Properly understood, the church of Christ would be considered priceless.
Yet the fashionable idea in America is that salvation comes first, and that becoming a member of any church and displaying loyalty to that church are optional afterthoughts. After all, if salvation is not directly linked to a church, and if any church will do, then why not “shop around” for the one that’s the most fun, that requires the least, and that offers the most social benefits?
But the New Testament teaches something completely different about the church that Jesus died for. It’s not splintered into a thousand denominations, it’s not an afterthought regarding salvation, and it requires the loyalty and service of anyone who wishes to name the name of Christ and enjoy the benefits of His death.
Jesus died for His church (Eph. 5:25-27), shedding His blood for it (Acts 20:28). Since Christ’s blood makes salvation possible, and since He bled and died for His church, that means Jesus saves His church, the body of Christ (Eph. 5:23).
When the Gospel was preached for the first time, and when believers obeyed the command to repent and be baptized, Jesus simultaneously saved them and added them to His body, the church of Christ (Acts 2:38-47).
Jesus’ death and His building the church were part of God’s plan to provide salvation (Gen. 3:15; Isa. 53; Acts 2:23). Paul said this plan—the death and resurrection of Jesus, and salvation being possible in Christ’s body, the church—were in the mind of God from eternity (Eph. 3:1-11; 1 Cor. 2:6-9).
This church began in Jerusalem, but it spread across the globe. Those congregations that Paul and others planted by preaching the Gospel were not denominations or community churches—they were congregations of the same church that began in Jerusalem. That’s what Paul meant when he wrote to the church at Rome that “the churches of Christ salute you” (Rom. 16:16). He was saying that their brethren in congregations of Christ’s church in other places sent greetings to the congregation of the same church in Rome.
And those Christians—members of Christ’s church—all had the same Gospel obligations laid upon them in morals and, yes, even in fidelity to the church, including attending worship (Heb. 10:23-27). Christians have obligations to Jesus Christ, and to each other, partly observed by assembling and helping each other grow.
Obey the Gospel so Jesus will save you and add you to His church. Then associate yourself with a congregation of His church and faithfully serve Him. Instead of the church of your choice, make it the church of Jesus’ choice.