Church to people means many different things. The dictionary defines it as ‘a building used for public Christian worship.’ To some people, it means being part of a community whereas to others it means an obligation to make a special guest appearance every Christmas and Easter – yeah, we’ve all had that phase.
But whatever it means to you, there is an objectivity in the notion that Church is a fundamental and integral part of the Christian life and so much more than just a building where Christians come to worship and I’m going to explain why that is, so let’s go.
Why’s Church important?
So many people approach Sunday as the day given to God, (Sabbath day and all that jazz) and walk out the doors feeling having completed their ‘duty’ of faith. However, I think this reduces faith to a ‘to-do’ item in their calendars and we have all been guilty of doing this at one point in our Christian walk and this can make us have that “ugh, Church is so boring, what a chore,” feeling and to be honest that’s saddening because church can be and is a beautiful thing.
“Well, I don’t need to go to Church to be a Christian”
Well okay, God won’t strike you down if you miss a Sunday but in the New testament, there is the indication that we as Christians should confirm and seal that personal commitment we’ve made through action in becoming part of the Church. Church attendance is not just a ‘good suggestion;’ it is God’s will for believers – Hebrews 10:25 (NIV) says we should “not [be] giving up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Even in the early Church, some were falling into the bad habit of not meeting with other believers and the author of Hebrews is basically saying frankly, that’s not the way it runs. We need the encouragement that Church attendance affords whether we like to admit it or not. Believe it or not, our hearts are unruly things and to be sure that we have put our trust in Jesus rather than in other things, we need to follow through and join a body of believers.
I’ve realised that some people’s main problem with Christianity has far more to do with the Church than with Jesus. They don’t want to be told that to become a Christian and live a Christian life they need to find a Church they can thrive in. They’ve had too many bad experiences with churches which I fully understand and sympathise with because there are some churches out there preaching some dodgy messages and advocating for some shady concepts. However, we should remember that Churches rightly draw a higher proportion of needy people but with a great number of people whose lives have been completely turned around and filled with the joy of Christ and my word, it’s an inspiring thing to witness. Therefore, I like to imagine the Church of Jesus Christ is like the ocean; it is enormous and diverse, there are warm and clear spots but deadly cold spots too and that’s how the Church is sometimes; it’s not always going to be A-Okay, tip-top in shape because we make up the church and we are imperfect. In Luke 5:31-32 (MSG), Jesus says “…who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders – an invitation to a changed life changed inside and out.”
I think this verse is a beautiful image of how the Church is a mix of wonderfully, diverse and imperfect people coming together and acknowledging the power and grace of Jesus Christ.
Church is more than just a meeting. The Church is all about being a community where the inspiration to do greater good takes place, where deeper love is explored, where enriching relationships occur, where authentic living is the goal. The Church is supposed to be a community where individuals are cared for, where gifts are used effectively and where people are challenged to grow beyond themselves.
“Why go to a Church service when I can watch it online every Sunday? That can be my Church”
I think there are benefits to a church having an online presence – there are some people who are just physically incapable of getting to Church so this is beneficial to them or if you miss one Sunday you can catch up on the sermon preached. However, I will say that if going to Church once a week was just about gaining what you need spiritually to make it through another week, then tuning in online would be just fine. You could get what you need on Christian radio, reading books or watching your favourite TV preacher but then I’m afraid they’d be missing the point.
The purpose of Church I believe is so much broader than that. Like I’ve said, it’s the element of corporate worship, in serving one another and reaching out in mission together and this can’t be done in isolation. I think we all can sometimes underestimate the significance of our physical presence in Church when we think it doesn’t matter; “oh, I won’t be missed, it’s not that important anyway.” Oh, honey no, that’s not the case. 1 Corinthians 12:27 (NLT) says “…all of you together are Christ’s body and each of you is a part of it.” We make the mistake of undervaluing the power of the Spirit of God residing within us which can extend so greatly to others and become encouraging and inspiring. We may not realise it, although others who need it… most certainly feel it.
So, I leave you with this enlivening verse from Mathew 5:14,16 (MSG) which says “…You’re here to be light, bringing out the God colours in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill………I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand-shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven”
How amazing is that?
Till next time – Roch x