Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you go to church? Or why you go to small groups? I used to. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. We need to understand why we do things, especially as important as church. And we need the answers.
I used to be among those who didn’t always see the value of going to church. I’ve said my fair share of statements like, “you don’t need to go to church to be a Christian”. I never experienced church how it was meant to be experienced. I never found a place that felt like home. They were all so distant, methodical, cold, monotonous, and the like. Relationships were hard to come by and getting connected was not easy to do. It didn’t fee all that different from going most places. Most of the time it was far less rewarding. That’s sad to say.
The other problem I had, besides the churches that I went to, was a lack of knowing why God wants us in “church” in the first place. A huge gap in many people’s lives, who give up on church, or go “church hopping” is that they don’t know why they’re there in the first place. I fully admit that some churches are just hard to be in. Jesus addressed seven churches in the book of Revelation, which can also be seen as types of churches in all eras, most of which did not receive good marks. With the exception of those churches that are not good environments to be in, we can all do ourselves a huge service by understanding why we’re there.
Now, I still believe that a person does not need to be a member of a church to be a Christian. At least not the way that the western mindset thinks of church. But we are commanded to not neglect meeting together and encouraging one another. However that may look for you. Whether it’s a home church, a Bible study small group, you and a friend or two getting together, or an organized church gathering, it’s important. That’s because God knows that we need each other. We need a spiritual home to unpack our lives and establish our spiritual roots. We need a safe place. We need relationships that are healthy and can help keep us moving forward towards Christ.
A 2 hour trip to a building once a week just can’t cut it. Especially when the other 166 hours of the week are spent out in the harsh environment of the world. Also, if those 2 hours are spent singing a handful of songs, listening to a sermon, making some small talk, and then going about our day, then we aren’t getting the meaning of church. Perhaps that’s why so many lose heart and lose focus. Or maybe didn’t ever gain the right focus in the first place.
Church is, and always has been, a place for relationship. The primary relationship that needs to be fed is between us and the God we worship. Heartfelt worship is certainly one way to do that. Hearing from Him through His word and teachings can also help tremendously. But those are all things we can do on our own. And we should be doing those things every day on our own. But corporate worship is powerful. Whether it’s you and a friend or a congregation of thousands, multiple voices lifted to heaven is amazing. We need to be helping one another to understand the word of God and holding one another accountable in our pursuit of Christ. That, we cannot do on our own.
The other relationship that is important about church is the one we find in a friend. We have so many people at our church who we consider more than a friend. We consider them our family. They aren’t by blood. In fact, one a few are related to us. But they are closer than most of our family members. They know us more deeply. They’ve been there for us, and us for them. We pray together, serve together, sing together, and simply do life together. That is what church should look like. That is what is missing for so many, and what was missing for me for most of my life.
Church is a place where we should be pouring ourselves out every bit as much as we’re getting filled up. Church is not a department store where we go to find what we are in the market for. Yet that’s how so many treat it. We can’t go into church asking what we can get out of it. If we do, we’re lost before we ever walk through the doors. It’s not about our entertainment or satisfaction. It’s about relationships. And those only thrive when they are a two way street. Why should you be gathering with other believers? Because we need one another. Desperately. And our relationship with Yahweh only suffers when we decide to go it alone. Let’s worship together, learn together, and grow together. If that is truly what you want in life, God will open the door. Because that is what God wants for you.
God bless brothers and sisters. And may you find deep and meaningful relationships with other believers. And may your relationship with your Savior be more fruitful than ever! Shalom.