As a Christian, is there anything more complicated than church? I’ve been a Christ follower for almost 21 years and I’ve attended church my whole life (except for a few stints of playing hooky here and there). I’ve loved attending church and exclaimed with the Psalmist “I rejoiced when they said let us go to the house of the Lord.” (Psalm 122:1) But, I’ve also dreaded the whole idea of church and felt that it had no purpose in my life or in my walk with God. I’ve been on staff at churches and I’ve been a nameless face in a lonely congregation. I’ve been paid staff, volunteer staff, layperson, new believer, reluctant participant, wounded congregant, and thankful congregant (not in that order, by the way!). I’ve even despised the church and felt her unnecessary. I’ve even, ashamedly, slandered the church (who is the bride of Christ). I now defend her. I once thought that you didn’t need to go to church to be a Christian. And pushing all semantics aside, I disagree with my former self.
You cannot be a follower of Christ by yourself. We need the fellowship of other believers. We need to participate in the church, which is the Body of Christ. We believers make up the Body of Christ! Our body is not so healthy, though. We are missing too many members. We are blind in one eye, we don’t hear so well and we are going mute. We limp when we walk and our hands don’t move as well as they could.
This past Sunday, Pastor Scott said, “The church doesn’t exist for us, we are the church.” If we don’t “like” church, then we don’t like ourselves. If we don’t like ourselves, we better change ourselves. When I haven’t liked church is when I haven’t been participating in church. Church was not ever meant to be a spectator sport or a show we attend on Sundays. I have only loved attending church when I have been serving in church: when I have been doing the things and participating in the roles that God has created me to participate in. When I have been functioning in the role within the Body of Christ that I was created to function in.
The times when I sat back and simply just observed church, that is when I grew frustrated and despised church. When I have served and participated in church, that is when I saw the reason we have church. Jesus says, in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” When we gather together as believers, we are the church and we exist to proclaim the risen Savior. When we gather together as a community of believers, we lift up Christ and He then draws people to Him. If you find yourself questioning the need for church, maybe it’s time to look at your role within the church. God created you unique and has given you specific talents and abilities. How can you serve your church? What part of the Body of Christ are you supposed to be? We need each and every believer to participate. Without each other, the church just doesn’t function the way God created it, no wonder so many people are leaving. If you need to, will you repent with me, return to loving the church, and call them back?