How important is it to live near your church community?

I do not know of anyone who thinks that is not important. I have been trained and influenced in such a way that if a visitor to our church lives a good distance away, I always recommend a healthy church nearer to them if I know of one. But I wonder if I am overthinking on that one.

Perhaps I have not been taking into consideration the cultural changes between today and the first century. The invention of cars and interstates makes a 30 minute drive to a worship service not that different from a 30 minute walk or caravan in yesteryear. And perhaps I should take relationship into consideration when thinking through these things too.

My new “sister-in-law” (my sister’s husband’s sister) has been visiting our church recently. I have recommended a great church to her in the past that is about five-ten minutes from where she lives, but for now she prefers taking 40-45 minutes to come to us. She is young in the faith and has relationship with us; she does not get much spiritual support from her husband at this point; and my sister and bro-in-law are more than willing to drive to her and bring her every week. It does not interest her much to go to a church near her where she does not know anyone. In fact, her husband is now very open to visiting our church. Her coming for now to our church seems like such a good thing.

Perhaps as she begins to grow in Christ, and becomes more missional in mindset, she will see the value of inviting friends to come to know Christ, and then perhaps see a need to be in a church nearer to her own community. But even then, I wonder if it is right, because of God’s providence over our relationships–and especially as long as the speed limit is 60 on the H-3–to simply think of them as virtually being “near” to our community.

3 responses to “How important is it to live near your church community?

  1. The one problem that I could see about changing the local church thinking is that while a 30 minute drive once a week on a Sunday may be do able, but the chances of making a mid seek study, or a prayer meeting would be less likely to happen. Additionally, things like running into your church family at the local store, park or bank are far less likely to happen as well which could lead to less accountability within the body. Finally, our culture has become so fast paced and automobile driven that staying close to home at least one day of the week and getting to know people who live right down the street, maybe taking that 30 minute walk to church so that you can get to know more of your neighbors and even get some fresh air and exercise would be a good thing.
    I know of a local church that has an “online” local church community with 1100 local members. I think that the first century definition is still the best. Lets be counter cultural and go old school…

  2. Good thoughts, though there is no such thing as an online “church”. Let’s definitely not concede calling them “members” of anything real

    • Todd, I agree with you completely concerning the “online church”. I added that to shed light on the direction our culture is heading. The “online church” makes sense for a generation of people who live in the “online community” of FB, Twitter, etc. Who have “online friends”- that they will never actually see or interact with. The subversion of the enemy is real, the erosion of real, intimate communion between people to people and people their God is being replaced with phone calls, texting, and virtual encounters. I believe your original way of thinking is still the best. Paul instructed Titus to appoint Elders in every town, so his intent must have been that each community would be a community of believers.(Titus 1:5)
      BTW- this “online church” is a sub church of a local church here on island. They stream the service live and even take a collection online as well. The law of not neglecting the gathering together can be fulfilled, just not the heart behind the law.

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