I've heard it said a number of times from young people (and old people), "I really love doing ministry for Jesus, but I just don't see the importance of being super involved in my church." It's really easy to separate the two, especially in a world where there are many really good organizations out there that, while not connnected to any particular church, are doing things in the name of Jesus.
This is an issue I attempted to tackle in an article published at Boundless. I tried to show that our ministry efforts should actually be most evident within the context of the local church. I've met a lot of young people over the years who, while they are really excited about "doing something" for Christ, feel very little inclination towards the Bride he died for. I attempted to argue that they must go hand in hand. I also tried to warn against the emphasis on "doing big things for Jesus" because in actuality, most of us really just do a lot of little things for Jesus over the course of our lives, and that's actually a good thing. Faithfulness is our barameter, not size and innovation.
Here is part of what I said:
The passion for ministry and commitment to a local church are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they must go together. You can't be all about the mission of Jesus and not be all about the mission of His bride.
When we only think in terms of spring break missions trips or weekly evangelism outings with our college friends, we can start to think that our good actions trump our bad behavior. If you volunteer with International Justice Mission or sponsor a Compassion child, this good work actually outweighs the fact that you can't hold a job or are wasting your days away playing video games. And that's where the local church comes in.
The local church provides the accountability, fellowship and truth that we so desperately need. We have to get away from the mentality that it's "just me and Jesus." It's not. Yes, Jesus loves you. But He also loves the church, His bride for whom He died. The Bible actually talks about the church being the very body of Jesus. And I've heard it said that we dare not say to Jesus, "It's not You I hate, it's just Your body I can't stand." When we neglect the local church, we are actually neglecting our Savior.
He has big plans for you that do not start first with your exotic missions trip or urban ministry. Jesus' mission for your life is first and foremost to make you holy, and one of the primary ways He accomplishes this mission is through the local church. Our ministry to this lost and dying world should never be divorced from the church — and more importantly, the local congregation that you belong to.
You can read the rest of the article here.