Monday, December 10, 2007

Is Church an Important Part of your Christian Life?

I've been catching up on reading blogs recently. Today I read the latest New Attitude Blog post "Why I don't Go to Church." This post challenges those in their 20's to really examine their reasons for not attending church rather than accepting the standard "I'm too busy" excuses.

It also links to the first chapter of a book which begins with “If you call yourself a Christian but you are not a member of the church you regularly attend, I worry that you might be going to hell.” The explanation for that statement is worth the read here as he continues by saying:
"But I’m concerned that many Christians don’t realize how this most important relationship with God necessitates a number of secondary personal relationships—the relationships that Christ establishes between us and his body, the Church. God doesn’t mean for these to be relationships that we pick and choose at our whim among the many Christians “out there.” He means to establish us in relationship with an actual flesh-and-blood, step-on-your-toes body of people.
That article points out that we are identified as already being a part of the universal church. But at the same time we are told to be part of the local church and not to give up meeting together especially as the time gets closer for Christ to return.

To me these articles brought up interesting thoughts. Many of the great homeschooling families in this area who read this blog (mine included) have at one time not attended or are currently not attending traditional churches. Some simply don't attend any church at all. To be honest, not being a part of a traditional church that has a pastor and a meeting place makes me a bit nervous. Of course my nervous feeling doesn't make the thing wrong.

People have many reasons for distancing themselves from "regular churches." Sometimes the reasons seem good. Maybe the teaching their kids would receive in a traditional youth group is contrary to what they are being taught at home. Maybe the preaching does 'put you to sleep' and the fellowship leaves much to be desired. Maybe the kids in the church you attended are not properly disciplined and would make your job as a parent more difficult for the rest of the week.

But consider this. Maybe God has given you the ability to be an instrumental part of someone else's life in building up people who have needs in the local church. Obviously none of us are perfect, but maybe you have learned something that another has not. Does that mean you should stop being around that person because they don't understand what you do?

I am very thankful for my local church Fountain of Grace. After college I did consider looking for another church. I didn't choose Fountain of Grace - it was a church my family begin attending and eventually joined while I was in college. But after prayer and consideration, I realized that I had not really given Fountain of Grace (then called Prattville Alliance) a chance. I wanted to get to know people, but yet was not involved in much of anything. Instead of leaving, I became involved. Is my church perfect? Certainly not! I know that I'm not perfect so any church I'm in will also not be perfect. There is no perfect church. But there are churches in which the Bible is preached and people are real - two things that seem very essential in a church.

So whether you attend a traditional church, do home church, or have family church, do nothing or something in between, what impact does it have on your life?

So what can I say about my church? I can say that relationships I've developed in church have enriched my life. A friendship with Pam and attending a church related prayer meeting brought me a new place to live across the street from her. This made deepening a relationship with her and her family possible and a lot of fun. Having many ladies who know me and are interested in and concerned about me is invaluable. I know that many of them pray for me and I'm sure that makes a big difference in my life. Learning and thinking about things preached by Pastor Tony has hopefully shaped my thinking in many ways. I know that his teaching on position based acceptance versus performance based acceptance is something that I have come back to time and time again. Being reminded of grace and righteousness is important and having it come from a Pastor who seems to genuinely care for the people of his church is invaluable. Pastor Phil and all the mission trips he has led keeps me reminded of all the needs outside of our church. It gives me a better perspective on life and a reminder of how small our emergencies in life really are. Being a teacher in AWANA has given me more than just an opportunity to serve. It's given me a chance to relive the joy of children's excitement in science experiments and to see how the little things matter to a child. Running sound has taught me to appreciate the job that so many others do in conferences. It has also taught me a skill that I may have never otherwise learned. Being in board meetings has given me an invaluable look at some of the issues faced by a church and the needs of both the people and the church leadership. Being a part of a "smaller" church means that even your yet undeveloped talents may have a place to be used (especially if you have a little time and a brother like Elijah who will help you get a website going!).

I still have a lot to learn about the Church. My involvement in it can sometimes degrade into duty instead of joyful service. Church is not always as important in my life as it should be. But for all its flaws (and mine!), I am very thankful for the local church. What about you? Is your church important to do? Has it changed your life or does it impact you at all?

1 comment:

scotd1t said...

I think that if it were not for my local church (FOG), my holidays would be a total bust. I have been terribly depressed over these holidays but after being with my brothers and sisters this morning my whole outlook is brighter and I feel refreshed.

I would sink into a terrible life if it were not for the fellowship that I receive during each week. It encourages me to live and walk like the Lord has called me to live and walk. It gives me the opportunity to "start over" with worship and a message of truth. It allows Jesus to physically touch me with His hands and minister to me with His feet and feed me with words from His mouth. I am so thankful for our local body!! Thank you Lord!