Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Infant Steps: Should I go to Church?

My Beloved EROLyrics Readers,

Thank you all for your responses to Angela's questions. Believe me, she is relieved to know she is not alone in her desire to hear from God, and that there is a solution.

Welcome to a new and blessed week. For the Infant Steps Series, I just received a question from Ben that has kept me thinking all day and night.

Please share your two cents on his question below. Thank you.

Dear Rita,

I have been a born again Christian for about nine years. I used to go to church frequently until I moved location two years ago. In my new location, I do not like the churches around. What they preach is contrary to what I have always known. As a result, I decided to stop going to church.

At the end of each year, I take my yearly tithes and offerings and pay to my former church. I try not to sin. I give when I can. I read my Bible. On Sundays I listen to Christian music. I worship and pray.

My question is, is there still need to go to church? I want to be sure that I am not doing the wrong thing.



Rita said...

Coincidentally, I got this email today from http://www.laughandlift.com. Though it does not directly answer the question, at least it talks about what the church is...

How connected to your church are you? I am not asking if you are a member, or regular in attendance or giving. But, how much are its people a part of your life and you theirs? Do you see other Christians as family or fellow attendees? Do you think of your church as a "them" or an "us, we"?

A Spiritual Utility Company is how many see church: a place that holds a service where the Pastor meets - or doesn't meet - your needs. As the Phone, Electric and Cable companies have their role in your life, so does the church.

The Biblical descriptions of a believer's relationship with the church are vastly different from what many (most?) experience. Many do not seem to know how deeply Jesus wants our lives to intertwine. Others are quite pleased with their comfortable, yet shallow, relationship with their spiritual family.

Few seem to see it as a blood-bought body into which we have been baptized, placed by Jesus; a body that is as interdependent as your own. Sing with me: the wrist bone's connected to the arm bone, the leg bone. (Ephesians 4; 1 Corinthians 12, 13; Romans 12).

Rita said...

Here is a way to check your church connectedness. Which of these phrases sound like how you describe your church to others?

1. "I go to Pastor So-and-so's Church." The Pastor is the church's main identity point. He is the Man of God that you follow, adhere to, trust, respect, stand-behind. As enviable as that may sound to us Pastors, it is a scary, vulnerable place to let people stay.

What if the Pastor leaves, shows his humanity or worse, falls into sin or serious doctrinal error? Understandably, these are hits in one's life, but how deep a stroke would it be to you? Do you believe what you believe because a pastor seems convinced enough for both of you, or do you own your faith?

2. "I go to Such-and-such Church." Its reputation, distinctives, denomination - or lack there of - and even its image are key. You name-drop it for spiritual credibility, clout or even to be "chic by association." Your church identity is defined by who you are and are not: Traditional, Contemporary, Reformed, Free Will, Baptistic, Presbyterian.

There are thousands of things we own as distinctives: Pentecostal, Non Charismatic, High / Low Church, house church, Decaf., non smoking, window seat. These can be great things. Yet, when they define us, they divide us.

We often assert that most of us agree on a few core doctrinal matters - the essentials. Still, we truck in our distinctives, put them up front, give them more weight then they deserve or can bear and start parting company.

Though we may have the Lord Jesus in common, it sure sounds like music styles, Sunday Evening services and dress codes are a lot more important than our Crucified, buried, risen, coming again Savior. Our connectedness is not Him but our particularities, our differences.

Rita said...

3. "Our church offers." (fill-in a list of programs). If church primarily for you is a place to be served and catered to, then something is amiss. We have far too many pew people who claim to have known Jesus for years and are still takers, consumers. They are not ministering, using their gifts, laying down their life for others.

Satisfied customers like what their church provides. They show up for many of its offerings and even give, bring goodies and help set up / clean up. But, dare you disappoint, offend or slight them and they are suddenly no longer around, not returning calls, and arriving late and leaving early to the last few events they come to.

When the novelty wears off of how well their church "serves the better burger", and the next "First Church of the Latest and Greatest" bursts on the scenes, reporting remarkable growth (sheep shuffling), they feel the need to check out what "God is up to" there.

4. "That's my family's church." You grew up in the same neighborhood as your parents, went to the same schools, and of course, attend the same church. It's "where your family goes" since they helped start it. Like three other generations, you were dedicated, and married in that church.

This can be precious, a holy legacy of stability and commitment. There is nothing wrong with a family church, as long as your family knows it is part of a bigger Family where God is in charge, not Grandma.

5. "That is the church family I am part of. Our church." To use an old, noble term, you are a Churchman. A committed to, serving in, making-happen, plugged in, need-meeting, class-teaching, stranger-greeting, sick-visiting, meal-fixing, flower-buying, card-sending, family member.

You rejoice with those having babies, getting married and you weep with those facing death, divorce, unemployment or disability. You know and acknowledge birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, promotions, layoffs and major medical tests. You provide rides to the store, help cut the grass, pay the bills, fix the car, slip cash to, pass along hand me downs, watch the kids, loan the car.

Note this well: each church probably has some of each of these five types of Christians. Their disposition towards Church may or may not be produced or promoted by their church.

Take the risk - again - and be the church. Lead the way by humbly serving one another as "inasmuchas" people. Jesus said that in as much as you did it to the least of these, you did it unto Me.

Gee said...

hmmm its a tough one o,especially bcuz the churches arnd preach a contrary story...but im sure dere has to be one church around..maybe not 5 mins away but a driveable distance....i see church as a very important aspect of Christianity...God sed we shuld not forsake his assembly...this is cuz it helps u grow in the way of christ that watching tv may not be gud enuf.
So i guess im saying she shuld try nd find another church that is around nd if there is ABSOLUTELY NONE,hmmm...idk, but i kno if she is sure that the others dont preach wat is really "the word of God", then she shuld not settle 4 those kind of churches.
hope this helps o

Anoda Phase said...

Well, like Gee said, I think it's important for you to go to Church, in order not to "forskake the assembly of the brethren"... however, I do understand ur not wanting to attend a Church where contrary (and if I may ask, contrary to what?) messages are preached...

There are several Churches that broadcast their services online (live) these days...find one whose message u believe in and worship with them live, but only for a while...u really do need to cast ur net wider in ur search for a Church which u can physically attend...hopefully u drive, or have easy means of transportation, so this shouldn't be much of a challenge...

All the best Ben...

webround said...

My advice would be - do not go to a church (you do not like) just because you want to fulfill the law of 'go to church'. If there is really no church that meets your needs, pray that God should direct you to one.I believe God will understand and do it.

After my relocation, I couldn't find a good church. Someone introduced me to Joyce Meyer Ministries and I watched her program online every morning.

Initially I felt guilty that I wasn't going to Church but I was getting a lot from JM and I still prayed that God should get me a church. Some months later, I found a church and not from randomly sampling churches every sunday. I was reading a work related article and someone there drew a parallel using a sermon preached by XY at WZ church and so I decided to check out the church. That's how I found my church.

Funms-the rebirth said...

Church is not about stopping you from sinning...its simply having fellowship with other like minded people..... so as to make you grow... When i relocated, i didnt find a perfect church. I used to watch tbn and listen to podcasts but after sampling randomly, i found one i liked..... just dont go to a churhc u wont feel blessed in

Kafo said...

church is important
paul tells us not to forsake the gathering/fellowship of the brethern

but that being said
i have to admit going to a church should be about Christ
it is not about they contradicting what u grew up believing
it should be about them contradicting the word of God
so ask yourself
do they follow the scripture
do they challenge you spiritually

these are the questions to ask

u need the church as much as the church needs you

Lolia said...

Benji :)
Okay now that I've gotten that out of my system...

I think going to church is really important because it helps you feel more connected...less alone...It provides you with support...

And I really don't think there's any point in you going to a church where you'd be miserable so all I can suggest is that you try really hard to find one that you not only enjoy going to but that you feel like you can really be a part of...

Hope that helps a little and good luck x

Anonymous said...

bible said do not neglect the assembly of brethren...(paraphrased). church is good..

if you havent found any church near you that you like, you could either pray to God to reveal one or you go online. I have found myself in two cities where i had resorted to not going to church cos i figured there were no churches around, but it stil surprises me till today how God provided churches and means of getting there. For the second city, they had to come plant a new church in the city where i was.....you think the new church wasnt planted cos of me?

find a pastor you love listening to, and check if they have live broadcast online

Writefreak said...

It's simple, the bible says not to forsake the gathering of ourselves..Ben needs to find a church. I was in his shoes recently, mr and I jst couldn't find a church like our home church after we moved. We looked, we prayed, a lot of sundays, we worshipped on the internet, now we found a good bible believing church.
He should pray and look, there will be one that preaches at least something close to what he believes which i want to believe is the bible. The bible says we are all members of a body and encourages us to do or part. He can't be a stand alone Christian.
My two cents!

~Sirius~ said...

I am positive I left a comment here.

Here it goes again-

The Bible said we should fellowship with one another in the House of the Lord.

So going to church is a given.

Finding the right Church- might be hard, but is very possible- keep searching.

So, don't give up on searching for a church that speaks to you. with everyone you sample- you are 1 step closer.

Original Mgbeke said...

I certainly think that going to church gives me my weekly encouragement. There is nothing as good as listening to the preacher say something that speaks to you and fellowshipping with other worshippers. I actually find myself looking forward to church these days, so I'd say Ben...keep searching until you find that place. Pray about it too, and God will lead you to your church home very soon.

David C Brown said...

2 Tim 2 v 23 says, "pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace, with those that call on the Lord out of a pure heart". Make that your test - and don't look for a "church" since there's only one of these in the bible and every Christian who has the Holy Spirit belongs to it.

Constance said...

I completely agree with Webround, said what was in my heart!

bArOquE said...

i think he's not totally wrong in choosing to stop church so that he can retain his purity & holiness...but there sure is the danger in staying away for too long...i have not been going to church for a while, & truly, all i have are excuses...so i stop here

Beulah! said...

Iron sharpeneth iron & so does a good man sharpen the countenance of his friend. Going to church is very important because that is where you are nourished & fed with God's Word.

Pls keep seraching until you find the right place to belong, God will surely direct you.

Tigeress said...

Church? maybe not so much. But u definitely need to fellowship with other Chirstians. Thanks God with technology one can hear the Word of God via different mediums. But i also think it's important to be a worker in the house of God.

Anonymous said...

I think church meets four needs in our Spiritual Journey: nurture (God using the preaching and teaching to build us up), community (having people of like mind to sharpen us as we sharpen them), worship (a structured process in which our hearts connect to God as part of a community) and discipline (having some form of oversight in our lives to give correction and direction as required). In bits and pieces, it's possible to get some substitutes for these outside the 'church' setting - but in the long run, I think it's for a reason that the bible talks about us 'not forsaking the assembly'. Just going to church for church's sake could turn out worse than not going at all. So some balance is obviously required between wanting to go to church and actually having it meet a need in our lives.

Two great books I read in the past on this subject are Good Things come in small groups and Joshua Harris' Stop Dating the Church .

akaBagucci said...

Maybe in patches it's fine -- but long term absences tend to be bad for the spiritual health.

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Anonymous said...

Just a quick 2pence, please remember not to exclude any church either. A lot of times what happens with Nigerians or black people is that they only look in Nigerian/black churches. Don't be put off by a caucasian congregation.

atlanta said...

Church isn't a place, it's a group of people. A church service is where they meet. It's important to be connected in community to a group of people. It has great social benefits and also that group can be people that you will rely on in difficult times, and people who you will help when they go through difficulties. People learn and grow effectively when part of a tightly knit community.