“Why do I have to go to church?” This is a question my children asked me during their teen years. It is also a question many adults think but do not verbalize.
First let me clarify what a “church” is. It can consist of a home group of less than 20 people, a church the size of the one I pastor of around 60 people, or number in the hundreds or even thousands. The key is that you are attending with a group of believers that the Lord has placed you in. Our Lord places us in a group that you can accomplish 3 things.
- To be taught the Word and strengthened in your walk by those around you. To be discipled. To be in a place that you can truly grow in your relationship with our Lord where the preeminence of self is replaced by the preeminence and sovereignty of Jesus Christ. To allow the Holy Spirit work in a person’s life and care enough to begin growth in the relationships with the other people the Lord has gathered around you in the body. (Jn 13:34) This is important because it is these saints around you that you can trust to lean on during tough times and trust when questions arise that God’s wisdom is needed. (Gal 5:13)
- To be in a place that you can help others grow and learn about our Lord. To be involved with those around you, helping when a person needs help, cheering when they have a victory. Caring and loving them as Jesus commanded. (Rom 14:19, 1 Th 5:11)
- To work together as a body to share the Gospel, minister to those the Lord brings in the path of the body, and fulfill the will of God by listening to Jesus Christ, the head who speaks to each member of His Body through His Holy Spirit. Together with each saint listening to what the Holy Spirit is saying we work together to accomplish the will of God. To accomplish together what would not happen individually. (1 Cor 12:18-27, Eph 5:30)
Next let’s talk about what occurs when we gather together, going to church.
- We pray at church, mainly corporately and hopefully from our hearts and in many churches there really is no time allotted to individual prayer anymore. Prayer is one of the most powerful tools and gift that God has given us and yet it seems in we don’t trust in it to help a person grow in their relationship with the Lord so very little time is dedicated to it when we gather.
- We sing songs and choruses and sometimes hymns during what is commonly called a praise and worship time. This has been a growing dimension in church gatherings. People gravitate to music but unfortunately the Bible and its teachings can get lost when it becomes more important than Biblical truth and teaching. Discipleship can get lost. Smaller churches where relationships and discipleship are the backbone, begin trying to compete in “church growth” with Larger churches. Church growth at times are based on the professionalism and quality of the music with Bible doctrines and truth taking a back seat, not to mention prayer. The problem is that great music can be emotionally charging to be a part of, but it must be recognized as only a part of why we get together. (Remember the 3 areas we discussed above)
- We teach, preach and share the Gospel and the Word of God. We all love a good preacher and teacher especially one who has a pastor’s heart and brings the Word to life in a way that not only addresses individual growth but growth and effectiveness of the body under the direction of the Word and the Holy Spirit.
- An area that has many times become superficial at church gatherings is in the interaction of saints with one another. This is the area I wish to expand on in this blog.
The list of scriptures that deal with how the saints, members of Christ’s Body, are to interact with one another is extensive. These scriptures deal with love one for another, mercy, forgiveness, charity, edification, comfort, teaching, directions, preferring another over yourself, and the list goes on. These scriptures and intended as directions and instructions for a group of people that interact together at a much deeper level than simply being an acquaintance. The family of God is a family, with brothers and sisters, elders and a Father. A family that fully interacts with one another at a much deeper level than a community service club like the Rotary, Lions or Kiwanis clubs. Yet in many churches the members really do not know the person very well who sits behind them or on the other side of the church. Many large churches recognize this issue is a real problem and promote small groups.
The fact remains, Christ is the Head of the Body, we are member fit together to function as His Body here on earth at this time, and we are to work together to accomplish His Will. Only when the members of a church interact as Jesus has directed and His Spirit is active and directing each individual will the Christian church begin to achieve the great things the Lord wills us to do. In the community I live in there are 10,000 people who live here. Of the 10,000 about 7,000 would call themselves a Christian and around 4,000 attend churches regularly. I have pondered this question; if there were 4,000 Kiwanis or Lions club members in this community, and they had a goal of dealing with a problem like drug abuse, family relationships, depression, would they have more impact in the community that the Christian body? We often here a fellow Christian ask why the Christian church seems helpless and weak and they really don’t see God’s power at work on the big issues in a community. Could it be the members of His Body are not or do not want to work together being submitted to the Holy Spirit? We want to do it “my way”?
Now back to the question we started with on why should we go to church. Yes, we should go to church to pray together. Yes, we should gather together and worship our Lord and Savion corporately. Yes, we should want to learn more about the Word and here what the Lord wishes us to hear through anointed preaching. But I feel the greatest reason we should get together each week and place it as a top priority is to set aside time to spend with the other saints the Lord has called us to fellowship with. Jesus performed wonderful things while He walked this planet, as a man with a body. Now we are His walking body and if we wish to be part of something in which the power of God flows and moves, we need to be an active, praying, and listening part of His Body, the church He has called you to. It is critical that you, we take the time and assemble together with Jesus Christ in the center of all we do.
Final note: The devil knows this and will do many things to make sure this does not occur. More on this on a different blog.