Go to church. Went to church. Sat at church. Ate at church. Sang at church. Prayed at church.
What’s the trend here? The church is referred to as a place-Not a people. The church is: the bride of Christ, a body of believers meeting for the sake of building one another up, encouraging each other, preaching the gospel to one another and holding each other accountable to live a holy life.
That is the church. That is the purpose of the church.
This morning, I woke up EXHAUSTED. Not I-stay-up-too-late exhausted. Just mentally and emotionally drained. I caught myself with this- mid thought.
“I’m so tired and I need time alone. Or at least encouragement. The last thing I want to do is show up and paste a smile to my face during the [dreaded] meet and greet. It would do more good at this point for me to be alone. I’d probably get more out of quiet time by myself. Well, hopefully if I go I’ll come away encouraged or inspired.
And then it hit me. “I….I…my…me…I…myself…someone [should] encourage ME.”
Do you see what is wrong with this picture? I am basing my reasoning for “going” to church (i.e. meeting with other christians) by what I can get out of it, rather than what I can give. I do this all the time! When in all reality, God may really want to use my vulernability, and my current circumstances to encourage THEM. Because I’m broken- because he would be working through me rather than me working in my own strength.
Them: my fellow believers. Them: the people that are coming for the first time and think christians have (or THINK they have) it all together. Them: The pastor’s, elders, and teachers that give of their time and energy to being ministers of the gospel as a life style. Them: Those who appear strong on the outside but are falling apart on the inside.
When I look at church from a standpoint of what I can get out of it, how it will “fill me up” or inspire me so I can go on living spiritually, “moved”, and “fired up” I’m looking in the wrong direction. We as believers are responsible to know the word for ourselves and daily seek God to challenge us in our walk- to grow us- to convict us of sin so that we can be clean. If the Holy Spirit convicting you of sin in our own personal life and showing you areas where you need to grow doesn’t move you- how in the world can we expect someone else to move us?
Being in community with others may benefit me in that way as a perk, but that’s not the main attraction. The main attraction is the bride of Christ- the church- the people- (imperfect as we all are) coming together to worship the one who SAVED us from our imperfect selves and to encourage each other to live in a way that shows we BELIEVE that.
Have you ever encouraged someone when you feel extremely discouraged and left feeling WORSE? Try it. You can’t out give God. You won’t run out of encouragement. He knows what you need and freely gives to those who ask.
I dare you to start going to church with an attitude of what you can give* to someone else. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you seek to minister to whomever he puts in your Sunday morning path. This may require me to look around as I make a bee line for the coffee. It may require having some at home prior to leaving my house so that I can make my way there more slowly and have intentional conversations. Consider intentionality when you use the phrase “How are you.” Use it sparingly- do you really have time for that person to tell you? Then ask, and encourage an unmasked response!
And by all means- GO.
Especially when you don’t have it all together. Imagine if we all went when we don’t feel we have it all together. How refreshed and encouraged would we feel by knowing that we’re not alone?
There might be more on this later. For now, I want to open this up for discussion.
Why do you meet with (or not meet with) the church?
What are the hurdles that stand in your way?
Check out Derek Webb’s”The Church.”
*This kind of giving does not entail over involving yourself with program volunteering and over extending yourself because “there is a need.” Burn out is very real and should be avoided by carefully seeking the Lord as to what he would have you be involved in at each season of your life. Rather, this kind of giving refers to simply being open to the holy spirit’s leading when you gather with other believers.