Questions for the “church go’er” and “church NO’er”…
The past six years of ministry have opened my eyes to many perspectives and reasons people go to church…or not. For the believers reading this, we know there is a better question to ask, and this I will dive into later. Many similarities paint these church conversations, while a few dialogues leave room for wonder as people enslaved to their own life experiences. I know there have been times where I too was enslaved, blinded, and running with a justified stride away from it all.Over time, I am convinced that both perspectives about church, from the “go’er” and the “no’er”, have moved so far away from what the body of Christ was commanded (by Christ and his apostles) to be, and towards a world pleasing and performance driven gathering that really doesn’t look any different than a stubhub.com event.
It is obvious to many of us that the Western church has toiled towards giving believers (and those seeking) an end to achieve, rather than equipping and sending believers to the ends of the earth.
Sunday morning performances, maybe a 20 minute message, weekly programs and studies, special events without even a hint of Jesus, and who can have the coolest church sign are simply not bearing fruit. Thankfully, God and His grace can use ALL things to draw people into his redemptive plan. But, it is so obvious that many professing Christians are still drinking milk. Either milk is what they are being fed, or milk is what they choose to drink.
For those seeing this from the outside, the unbelievers may be unsaved but they aren’t as naïve to the circus we call church. Though they have mentioned the judgment and “I don’t fit in” excuse, they see through all the hoopla and recognize that those proclaiming Christianity aren’t really any different. “What’s the point?” many ask. Sadly, numerous Christians couldn’t defend this question due to their lack of maturity and relationship with our Heavenly Father and a clear understanding of their call to the body of Christ.
What a great question to ask!? “What is the point of church?” How sweet these answers can be to the believer and unbeliever alike! And without throwing blame on the church failing, or believers being immature in their faith, or the unsaved being naïve to the truth, let’s take a minute to clearly define the point, and I would argue “points”. Here we can gain a right perspective and prayerfully reconsider our own ways as believers and those curious about our faith, while encouraging each other to do the same.
For grammer sake, let me define what we mean by church, as scripture teaches. The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia which is defined as “an assembly” or “called-out ones.” The root meaning of “church” is not that of a building, but of people. The church is the body of Christ, in which He is the head, and those who believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior hold fast to His headship. Meaning, they have repented of their sins, believed in the true Gospel of Jesus, and seek Jesus’ teaching, recognizing Him as their Lord and Savior.
Universally, the church body worships together in spirit and in truth holding fast to the teachings passed down through scripture and seeking to live this out daily. Locally, believers should seek out ways to be closely involved in a smaller church body of people, seeking the Word of God and holiness together so that their lives reflect Jesus Christ alone.
For time sake, let’s dive into one part of scripture that gives a simple yet profound look at the true body of Christ. For the record, there are so many clear teachings that we could bounce around to, but for the sake of simplicity let’s look at Acts 2: 42-47.
For context sake, this was the birth of the early church, a response to the Gospel message proclaimed by Peter about Jesus Christ, which “when they heard this were cut to the heart,” and asked “…what shall we do?”. “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Then, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” How appropriate this is for today!
Now, Acts 2: 24-27 reads, “42And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43And awee came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”
Here we see an intense pursuit of four things after a true repentance of sin. 1. Devoted to the apostles teaching, 2. Devoted to the fellowship, 3. Devoted to the breaking of bread and, 4. Devoted to the prayers. Here it is fair to define “devoted”; Fervent, zealous, pursing consistently with the willingness to learn and grow. Helps Word Studies defines in Greek as proskarteréō which means “to continue to do something with intense effort, with the possible implication of despite difficulty. “ It’s amazing how the original definitions bring so much life to the Word! A Word many today don’t quite understand anymore, as instant gratification and the internet world dull our senses to anything close to commitment or devotion!
So church goer, are you devoted?
Are you pursing Christ consistently with the willing heart to learn and grow despite difficulty?
Are you devoted to the apostles teaching (that of Jesus and the Kingdom of God) of the gospel and the faith, the doctrine which has upheld itself for thousands of years?
Are you devoted to fellowship with others who you can deeply love, and deeply love you as you push each other towards holiness, even when it’s messy?
Are you devoted to breaking of bread together, not just to share a meal, but to remember the saving death of Jesus and eternal life because of His resurrection?
Are you devoted to prayer for others throughout your day, with your spouse and your children, or family, or others?
If not, then what’s the point?
If so, then pray that awe would continue. That we would give as we are able and as other have need, and that we would find favor with all the people as the Lord adds to our number daily those who are being saved!
And you, church “no’er”, I ask, whom are you devoted to?
Have you considered seeking out the scriptures to learn for yourself who this Jesus is?
Or taken time to really evaluate who you are?
Have you sought out time with those who do believe to learn more about the faith verses believing what others tell you?
Have you taken time to pray, and ask this “God” to show himself to you, in a specific and special way?
If not, then what’s the point?
I challenge you to devote yourself for a time, and ask questions, learn for yourself and allow it to become clearer to you.
To both, I challenge you to consider and pursue a deeper relationship with our Heavenly Father, through His word, prayer, and asking for wisdom and understanding as you read. Surround yourself with those who are of the faith, above reproach, seeking to live Holy Spirit led lives. Break bread with them. Listen to their struggles and perseverance through them. Know that the struggle is real, and that we need each other to be real with if we are going to fight the good fight of faith to the end. And yes, go to church, a bible believing and teaching church. Hear, test and seek out what they teach. Submit to them and let them lead you to the way everlasting.
Over time, you will begin to see the point, or the points, that will turn your heart and pursuits towards our Heavenly Father, His love, mercy and truth. You will begin to see that the point of church isn’t making it every week, feeling judged or judging, contemporary or traditional, a type worship band, or a preacher’s style. The point of church is that you are called and chosen to BE it, set apart, a holy and blameless bride of Christ, seeking things that are above, and being changed daily by the power and truth of The Word of God. The point of the church is to worship Jesus, and enjoy Him forever.
May your joy be full and His glory be known!
Mandi Stewart is in her sixth year as Executive Director at Hope of Glory Ministries which empowers families towards spiritual and financial freedom in Christ. She loves living life with her all so patient husband Jeremy, first born Josiah, and daughter Faith. One day she hopes to be a professional golfer, but is surrendered to the call of wife, mother and leader in this world as she awaits that glorious day when Christ returns.