According to Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren, spiritual decline begins when there is an inconsistent attendance at worship services and other gatherings of believers, saying this is proof that people have become careless about their fellowship with God.
"I've mentioned before that the Church is a Body, not a building, and an organism, not an organisation," he wrote in his website. "For the organs of your body to fulfill their purpose, they must be connected to your body. The same is true for you as a part of Christ's Body. You were created for a specific role, but you will miss out on it if you're not attached to a living, local church. You discover your role in life though your relationships with others."
The Bible tells Christians that the Church works best as a whole, and the Bible verses Romans 12:4-5 best supports that statement: "Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we?"
Warren added that if an organ is somehow severed from its body, it will only shrivel up and die. "It cannot exist on its own, and neither can you. Disconnected and cut off from the lifeblood of a local Body of believers, your spiritual life will wither and eventually cease to exist," he said.
This is why it is important for believers to prioritise fellowship—because if they let this slide, then so will everything else in their lives. Moreover, the Bible instructs people to love their spiritual family, because their relationship with each other holds much significance in their personal relationship with God.
"Membership in the family of God is neither inconsequential nor something to be casually ignored," stressed Warren. "The Church is God's agenda for the world."