Triangles as shapes are among the strongest on the planet. Engineers use triangles individually or in strings called trusses to increase the strength of bridges, buildings and numerous other structures. The strength of a triangle is based in the fact that the points on the triangle are reinforced by the other points; when one receives pressure the others support it. Just as in the physical world, God has created a triangle of strength in the life of faith.
The Christian life is made up of three crucial components. All of these components are given to us by Jesus and each is interconnected and indispensable to following Him. The most foundational component in this triangle is found in the invitation of Jesus to “follow me” (Matthew 9:9). Each of us must make that decision individually, no one can make it for another (no matter how much we might like to). A personal relationship with Christ is the only way to be a Christian. However, as soon as Christ has been accepted, He adds two other points that create a triangle of strength for the believer. Receiving Christ into the heart, symbolized by baptism, is also the entrance into the church, Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 12:13). This is not, as some would like to believe, an optional part of the Christian experience; Jesus himself built the church (Matthew 16:18) and He is adding people to it. The church is the family of God and within it, not without it, we grow up into Christ who is the head of the church (Ephesians 4:11-16). The final component of this triangle is witness. Jesus’ last and great commission to His church was to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). No Christian life can be complete if it only exists to feed itself. This third point of the triangle is utterly crucial.
Unfortunately, our sinful human natures tend to take one or two of these three points and ignore the other(s). The direct result of this is that faith gradually or rapidly dies in the life of the Christian. I have heard people say “As long as I have Jesus I don't need the church.” Sadly, this is a lot like saying “as long as I have your head I don't need to rest of you,” it directly ignores the fact that the church is Christ’s invention and you can't have Him without having it. Others may go to church their whole life but never actually experience a living relationship with God. They have contented themselves with knowing facts about God but not knowing Him. They may even have been involved in witnessing; evangelism for them is sharing facts, not their love for the Person who has saved them. Their lives are often inconsistent with their church attendance because they do not know the Author of faith. Finally, others may try witnessing, either without knowing God or without having the church, and they rapidly burn out.
It is impossible to fully expand on this topic in one page but I hope that it has become apparent how crucial all three parts of this triangle are for the birth, growth and continuation of a living faith-based relationship with God. Perhaps while reading you have been convicted of some part of your triangle that is structurally shaky. Go to God and ask for His grace and power to restore your faith triangle.