What does church mean to you?
Church is weird. Is it for non-believers to find Jesus or is it for new believers to understand Jesus? Maybe it’s both. Can you choose to follow Jesus outside of church? If it’s a heart decision, why should it matter where the decision takes place? Is church really necessary? If God and me are good why should I have to go?
These are all questions I have either heard or asked myself, especially the last one. I have learned to look at church from two perspectives both of which require my attendance. The first is imagining myself as a glass of water. If my prayer is that I will pour myself out for others then at some point I need to refill the glass, right? For me, that is an easy way to view church. In order for me to pour OUT myself to the world around me I need to find a place that pours IN to me. The ratio is still way off, six days to one but there are other things to address about consistency that I won’t cover in this post. The message I hope to convey is that your church, my church should be a filling station. I don’t necessarily go in hopes of gaining divine wisdom or cure all for my problems, but I go so that I can rest and be poured into.
The second part of church that I think is vital to a Christians walk is the community and education. We can all agree that going it with others is infinitely better than going it alone. You need accountability and that’s what community offers. We are human so there are likely to be those that make you feel guilty for missing but your goal should be to find those that care about why you missed, not just that you did. Real community checks in and asks about you. It doesn’t matter that you missed church but it does matter if something deeper is going on. The other side of community is education. Similarly to being filled up, church is always a classroom. It is always a place to learn more about a creator that loves us. I take my spiritual toolbox and always look for more tools. God is larger than my imagination therefore I will never stop learning. We will never have Him figured out.
Why have I said all of this? Ever since my wife and I found a church home I feel like the church is necessary. Before, I would say things like “I’m good and I read and I do studies, so why do I need to go to church?” Do not be discouraged if church has failed you in the past. Don’t let past experiences keep you from the place that Jesus calls us to. Bad experiences or misconceptions should never stop you from looking. It took us over a year of searching to find a church where we felt at home. As I write this I have thought of another piece to this interesting puzzle, church isn’t always about you. Often times we are selfish and always feel the need to gain something from a church visit. What if you are the gain for someone else? What if your simple hello made someone else feel welcome and loved? It doesn’t always have to be about you.
Social media has made sharing the gospel a common place. Anyone can see it if they have access to technology. The pieces that are missing are the ones listed above. There is no replacement for the local church. Remember that the church is made up of flawed humans so it will not be perfect by any means, that’s what Jesus is for.