Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Going to Church...

I want to share with you a little something that has been on my heart for a while... I've been seeing many, MANY posts on social media about 
----------Not going to church, but BEING the church!------------
And while I agree with the sentiment to an extent, I am concerned that it is coming across that as long as you are BEING the church... GOING to church is not important. 

First off... as believers of Christ, we ARE the church.

The early Christians didn't have buildings to meet in for almost 300 years after the 'church' began, but the collective groups of Christians did meet together frequently. 
These early Christians were committed to Christ and to one another. They were to gather together to learn together, to pray together, to seek the Lord together... 
I love this excerpt from the book, 9 Marks of a Healthy Church by Joshua Harris

"In joining the church, we put ourselves in a position where we ask our brothers and sisters to hold us accountable to live according to what we speak with our mouths. We ask the brothers and sisters around us to encourage us, sometimes by reminding us of ways that we have seen God work in our lives and other times by challenging us when we may be moving away from obeying Him.
Membership in a local church is not an antiquated, outdated, unnecessary add-on to true membership in the universal body of Christ; membership in a local church is intended as a testimony to our membership in the universal church. Church membership does not save, but it is a reflection of salvation. And if there is no reflection of our salvation, how can we be sure that we are truly saved? As John explains, "If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen" (1 John 4:20)
In becoming a member of the church, we are grasping hands with each other to know and be known by each other. We are agreeing to help and encourage each other when we need to be reminded of God's work in our lives or when we need to be challenged about major discrepancies between our talk and our walk.
We need to give up trying to live the Christian life on our own. We need individually to covenant together with others to follow Christ. Christians must stop being selfish in their understanding of the Christian life. The Christian life is not just about you and those you are personally trying to reach with the Gospel. God also intends you to be a committed part of helping make disciples out of the flock of sheep He has already saved."

Going to church and being a part of this group of believers is a part of being a Christian. It is part of saying, "Yes! I belong to Him and I want to be with His people!"

Face it, we all have things we make time for... 
Sports, Friends, Socials, Dates, School, Work, Committees, Play-days, etc.

To me, the gathering of the saints together should TRUMP every single one of these, but yet, we are often much more committed to these things or activities than we are to weekly fellowshipping with a body of believers and growing together in God's word and truth. 

Jesus and His apostles went to church:
  • Mark 1:21 - Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught.
  • Mark 6:2 - And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue.
  • Luke 4:16 - So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.
  • Luke 6:6 - Now it happened on another Sabbath, also, that He entered the synagogue and taught. 
  • Luke 13:10 - Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath.
  • Acts 13:14 - But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and sat down.
  • Acts 17:1-2 - Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures....
  • Acts 18:4 - And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.

It was important to JESUS!

Thru the church there are so many outreach opportunities! Opportunities to serve others! Jesus was a servant, so let's serve! By being a part of the church you can be *the church* with much greater impact. Be His hands and His feet by serving others through this outlet as well as serving with your family! Our children, ours as well as others, they need to see that this is important to us. If it is important to us, then it will many times be important to them as well. Let them serve alongside you.
We have a monthly visitation program. There is an AWANA program where we encourage kids to learn God's word and 'hide it in their hearts'. We have classes, and in home Bible Studies. There is a local food bank that some of us work at each month. We have mission classes once a month. There are so many ways to grow and serve! 

"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." Hebrews 10:24-25

Y'all, you know me... I am no mega-Christian or a holier-than-thou person... I've made plenty of mistakes and I may not be telling you anything the you didn't already know, but I do know this. Being a part of church is something that I don't ever want to give up. Not because it is something I have to do... but it is something I want to do. I want to grow in my walk with the Lord. I want to go and bless and serve others. I want to spur one another on, and for others to do the same for me! I want to go and sit under teaching and preaching and learn more about my precious Savior! YES!!! All these things are BLESSINGS!

We go expecting a blessing, but we need to go with a preparation to BE a blessing to someone. 
Pray daily for the pastor and for your fellow brothers and sisters. 
See how you can help. Ask to decorate a table or sweep the floor. Let someone know that you are praying for them specifically this week and ask if there is anything they would like you to pray about. Be trustworthy and share that request only with our Father. 

I hear often that people won't attend church because of hurts. Listen... You are going to possibly get hurt wherever you go. It's just the truth. Someone at work may hurt you or you may have someone be mean to you at Walmart. It doesn't mean you will not ever go back to that place. Honestly ask yourself if you are willing to forgive that person. 
If not, then you need to have a talk with the Lord. 
(That's what the Bible says... not what Chas says)
That root of bitterness is dangerous. Most likely that person you are hurt at is as eager for a reconciliation as you are. Make a mends. It doesn't mean everything will be as it was, but you can lay that burden down. 

Friends, my concern is that if you are not attending a local body of believers you are missing out on what The Lord has for you. Your place may not be at my church... I don't know. But I want to encourage you to get connected with a Bible Believing, God Honoring, Spirit Filled Church...
It's worth it. 

And as always, if you are reading this and don't know Jesus as your own personal Savior and Redeemer, please contact me. I would love to talk to you. HE loves you so much. 

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