I’m sharing a series of “letters” originally written by Vince Miller. I regard Vince as a trusted resource for wisdom and insight on faith and family especially as it pertains to men and fathers. His bio is at the bottom of the post. Look him up. What follows is his work entirely. Vince communicates the messages I want my son to hear in a far more clear and concise way than I could ever say. Consider using these as conversation starters. I encourage you to share these letters with the important men in your life.
Church attendance is as vital to a disciple as a transfusion of rich, healthy blood to a sick man.Dwight L. Moody
Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, there a church of God exists, even if it swarms with many faults.John Calvin
I think it’s essential for you to hear this, but did you know you are a part of something big that some Christians believe is unnecessary. You are a member of a worldwide, and local body of believers called the church. While your personal relationship with Jesus Christ is essential, it was never intended to be private. Therefore participation in the body of Christ by joining a local church is not just nice; it’s necessary. I often worry about you not attending a local church regularly, and that you might dismiss it as irrelevant. But here are a few reasons I believe it’s important and the ways it has blessed me in my journey with Christ.
One | Man Was Created For Relationship
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”Genesis 1:26
Notice the text above. God creates man us not just in “his” image but in “our” image. The use of the plural personal pronouns “us” and “our” is significant. And just like the Godhead (Father, Son, and Spirit) is in relationship, we were created with the same need, not only for a relationship with God but others.
But you intuitively know this. You would otherwise experience loneliness and aloneness without meaningful relationships. You have been aware of this your whole life. You are reminded of this immense value often—every time someone includes you or leaves you out. Every time a friend comes to rescue or leaves you hanging. Every time a girl takes an interest in you or, in some cases, ignores you. We desire relationship, and we cannot do without it. God sketched it into the very fabric of our being.
Yet the relationships that fill this void have the potential to move us in two directions. Either they move us toward God or away from God. They thus make us better or worse. You have heard these words from me many times, but these two scriptures capture this truth. “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.'” (1 Corinthians 15:33) And at the same time, here is another important scripture, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)
You know both your mother and I have always been concerned about the relationships you have. The reason being is that we know that relationships have great power to either corrupt you or make you sharper. At this point in your life, you get to make your own choices about the friends you will spend your time with, but I hope you’ll spend more time with those in the latter category—men, and women, that make you sharper.
Most of my longest-lasting friendships and relationships have been forged in the church. In fact, in the church, I have found lifelong friends whose character, skill, and influence is still having an impact on me. Their voices echo in the chambers of my heart and mind whether or not I still see them regularly—some have passed on, some have moved, and some I still see, but they speak truth to me. And because we have shared in worship and sought God’s way together, they have made me the man I am today. This is just one of the many reasons I think it’s vital to attend a local church.
So go to church! Build some friendships and pursue God with others, even when it feels a little awkward for a while.
Two | You Need the Church and The Church Needs You
If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.1 Corinthians 12:17-18
In these verses, Paul, the author, is comparing the church to a body. A living system of people that work together and therefore rely on each other as they rely on God. And while many believe you can be a Christian without going to church, nothing could be further from the truth—the reason being—you are the church!
Choosing not to attend because the church is full of sinful people, you don’t like its style, or think it’s not necessary to be called a follower of Christ is entirely mistaken. God never intended Christians to function independently from the Christian community. It’s simply impossible. This would be like saying you’re a soccer player when you don’t play on a team. Or suggesting you are a leader when no one is following you.
And here is the great part about being a part of church or body—you need them, and they need you. In reality, the church has gifts and resources that you need, and at the same time, you have gifts and resources that the church needs. Being a part of a body has numerous mutual benefits. Plus, you gather with people that share a common vision, mission, and values regarding life and godliness, and all this results in the biggest reason we go to church—to worship God together. Weekly we gather underneath the Lordship of Jesus Christ and worship him. As the author of Hebrews said, we must “not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25)
Three | Men Need Regular Positive Accountability
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.Galatians 6:1-2
Accountability is something many men run from simply because we think of it only as something that occurs when we do something wrong. But accountability can be positive as well. It can be something that pushes and drives us to be better men, leaders, husbands, and fathers. I know without positive accountability as a man, I am destined for negative accountability—which is how most men learn through failure. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can be a little more proactive.
You need to start building relationships with some Christian men you trust and with whom you can confide. Men that love Christ and will propel you to be better. They will help you to become the man that God wants you to be and offer you encouragement in the temptations and burdens of life.
While I am present for you now, there will be a day I am not, and I hope that you will always be connected to a church because it’s essential to your ongoing growth and faith development. Act upon this immediately, and it will bless your life along our long journey toward our eternal home—together.
I love you, son, Dad.
Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God’s Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men’s Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.