What is your response to my disappointment with the local church and decision to attend a small group Bible study instead?
I know many people (I among them) have had discouraging experiences with the local church. But I also believe Jesus hasn’t given up on local churches and that we shouldn’t either.
I meet many Christians disconnected from local churches, and I don’t believe it is healthy for them. Small group Bible studies and other fellowship groups are wonderful, but they are not church substitutes. Of course, all Christians do belong to the universal Church, but scripture is specific about the local church. I once looked up every reference to church in the Greek New Testament and found that the vast majority of references to “the church” in scripture are to specific local churches, not to the general invisible church.
Hebrews speaks to people who are part of a local church:
13: 7: “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”
13:17: “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
We have a natural desire to be independent, but we need godly church leaders, and should seek to find a local church that has godly leaders rather than to withdraw from churches.