The following is an excerpt from Francis Chan and David Platt's book, Multiply, about discipleship. A link to the online version is below.
Committing Your Life to the Church
First, let's make sure that we are not guilty of belittling God's church in any way. It's not a social club; it's not a building, and it's not an option. The church is life and death. The church is God's strategy for reaching our world. What we do inside the church matters. We tend to equate church life with events and programs. But these are not what make a church. Programs are helpful to the extent that they facilitate the life and mission of the church, but we can't equate well-attended events with the health of the church.
God cares about the way we love each other and the way we pursue His mission. The church is a group of redeemed people that live and serve together in such a way that their lives and communities are transformed. What matters is your interaction with the people God has placed in your life. If you are not connected with other Christians, serving and being served, challenging and being challenged, then you are not living as He desires, and the church is not functioning as He intended.
Throughout the Bible, we see pictures of the global church (which includes all followers of Jesus in all locations) and the local church (which includes particular followers of Jesus in a particular location). Out of 114 times that the "church" is mentioned in the New Testament, at least ninety of them refer to specific local gatherings of believers who have banded together for fellowship and mission. God intends for every follower of Jesus to be a part of such a gathering under the servant leadership of pastors who shepherd the church for the glory of God.
Despite the clear priority that the Bible puts on believers being part of a local church, many followers of Christ try to live the Christian life apart from serious, personal commitment to a local church. The reasons are many. We are self-reliant and self-sufficient, and the kind of mutual interdependence and even submission and accountability to others that the Bible talks about frightens us. We are often indecisive, hopping from one church to another looking for the "perfect place" and the "perfect people." Many of us have been hurt in the past by things that have happened to or around us in the church, and others of us simply don't see the importance of being specifically connected to a local church.
But the Bible says the local church is important. God has entrusted local churches with godly leaders who teach us His Word and care for our souls (Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 5:1-8; 1 Tim. 3:1-13; 5:17; Titus 1:5-9). God has united us together in local churches to keep one another from sinning and straying from Christ (Gal. 6:1-5; Matt. 18:15-20). God has commanded us to gather together in local assemblies where we preach God's Word, celebrate the Lord's Supper, baptize new believers, and pray for and encourage one another (Acts 2:42; Heb. 10:24-25). Then we scatter to care for believers and to share the gospel with unbelievers (Acts 2:43-47). Clearly, being a disciple and making disciples involves committing your life to a local church where you are joined together with other believers under biblical leadership to grow in the likeness of Christ and to express the love of Christ to the world around you.http://multiplymovement.com/