Monday, August 18, 2008
Why do we go to church?
Why do I go to church?
There are churches that make you feel like you have to go there or you'll 'miss your dose of God for the week'. That not going is almost akin to committing a sin (though they never say it). We don't go to church for our one dose of God do we? Like God is nowhere else and we aren't a Christian the other six days of the week? Like we can't meet with God and have a deep spiritual encounter on our own at home?
I've said many times I believe church is a community of believers who meet together once a week for worship, teaching and fellowship and then need to go and take this message to the world and serve their local community, both corporately and individually.
When we go to church on Sunday, it shouldn't be because we feel guilty about not going. It shouldn't be because we feel we must or we'll be in trouble.It shouldn't be because we always do. It shouldn't be because of shame of sin or fear of what people will think if we don't, or any kind of unhealthy fear.
When I say this I don't include fear of the Lord. A healthy fear of the Lord is a good thing, and wanting to honour God and serve and grow in Him is a good reason to go to church.
But being scared of not going becuase of what people around you will think is unhealthy fear.It also shouldn't be because we want our one dose of God for the week, and this is the only time we ever worship, pray or listen to the word.
A relationship with God is an ongoing relationship, each day. For a healthy relationship with God we need to be reading the Bible (something I struggle with) and engaging with God, whether through prayer or worship of some kind, on a regular basis.
But we go to church to do these things together, as a community. To hear the word preached and be challenged to grow. To meet with God through prayer and worship. To have communion and remember what God did, and to engage with other Christians and serve and encourage each other.
We come because we are set free and want to celebrate what Jesus has done for us together and be equipped to go out and serve God in the community and wherever we are.
We come because in a church environment there is a chance to develop our gifts, be discipled and because it allows us opportunities to serve.
It gives us an opportunity to be prayed for by others, to be blessed by God, to get healing.
We have a chance to learn from those wiser than us, and hear God's word through someone else's eyes and respond. Its a safe place for all these things to happen.
These are all good reasons to go to church.
Whenever we do something regularly we can go through different phases though.
Romance, disillusionment and joy.
When we're at a new church its easy and fun, everything is new so we're more motivated. Then eventually we get to the point where we're so used to it, so involved, that we start to get more cynical, notice the flaws more, and can get bored of the same old thing every week, no matter how good it is.
This happens with everything we do regularly.
Jobs, relationships and of course church.
I say that here because this is the point where it ends for most people. This is the point we think we might want to go somewhere new, where its all fresh and exciting. But this is when we need to persevere, work at it, not give up, remember the good things and endure.
If we endure, then our experience becomes fuller, richer, more true and eventually we come to a point where we know that no matter what happens, we can deal with it.
We get to a place of joy.Maybe you're in that place. Maybe you go out of habit and nothing else. Maybe you go but you're disillusioned with it.
Keep in mind the real reasons we should go to church. Keep in mind all the good things that come from going to church, remember the good times, remember who its all about. Remind yourself.
Remember why you joined your church in the first place. Ask God to help you re-discover your passion for church.
Maybe you go because you will feel guilty if you don't.and are worried that people will judge and condemn you for not going.
If that's the case then may you understand that you have nothing to be guilty about, that you are free from the sin that blocks you from God, and may you see the freedom and joy the comes from knowing why we go to church, and from the forgiveness and promise of Jesus.
May all of us come to see why we should be going to church and the freedom we have in Christ.
May all of us feel released to express ourselves to God, hear from Him and serve Him in and through our churches, to be prayed for, to meet with God, to be healed, and ultimately to know the true joy of being alive in Christ and part of a church that is alive.