Sunday, February 15, 2015

Take Me to Church

When I’m evangelizing and find out someone is already saved, usually I’ll ask them where they go to church. Some reply, “I used to go to such and such church.” Others will say, “I have church at home” or “church is in my heart.” Sadly, many who give answers like that tend to act very unChristlike. 

One time at the Florida State Fair, I saw two men handing out brochures. I offered one of them a gospel tract in exchange and discovered they were Christians. When I asked this man which church he went to, he defiantly replied, “I am the church!” At that point, I knew there was going to be trouble. He then tried giving me another brochure about all the “corruption” going on in various churches. Not wanting to read stuff like that, I responded by quoting 1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” Acting like a spoiled child, this man returned my tract saying he didn’t want to read it.

Recently a friend shared an article on her Facebook wall critical of “organized religion” and suggested ten reasons why one should stop going to church. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons for not attending a particular fellowship. Nevertheless, that article inspired me to put together this list of ten reasons why one would want to go to church...

1. We are commanded not to forsake “the assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25). Many Christians argue they don’t have to meet inside a building. I agree a church would be defined more as a body of believers than an actual meeting place. Then again, Psalm 122:1 says, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.’” Jesus often taught in the synagogues. So did the Apostle Paul.

2. Mentors help us mature spiritually. Ephesians 4:11-13 says, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Until the Lord returns, He will continue using ministers in the church to bring instruction...and correction when necessary. John Paul Jackson says, “We are life long students of the ways of God; trouble starts when we think we have graduated."

3. God usually assigns His people to a particular place. Unless you’re a traveling minister like myself, it’s best to consistently attend one church you consider “home.” Instead of selecting “the church of your choice,” ask God where He wants you connected. 1 Corinthians 12:18 says, “But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.” If you live in an area without a Christ centered, biblically balanced church, I would prayerfully consider moving or starting a new fellowship.

4. Our lives will bear more fruit. While it’s good to see what God is doing in different parts of the body of Christ, Psalm 92:13 says, “Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.” I heard John Bevere compare “church hoppers” to a plant that will die from constantly being dug up. We grow stronger when our roots are allowed to sink deep somewhere.

5. It keeps us accountable. One could argue the Apostle Paul didn’t attend a fellowship for a season after coming to Christ. He wrote in Galatians 1:16 “...I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood.” However, Hebrews 13:17 (which many Bible scholars believe was also written by Paul) says, “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account.”

6. It will decrease the possibility of backsliding. “Iron sharpens iron” says Proverbs 27:17. Numerous individuals I know fell back into old sinful habits after they stopped going to church. Too much time away from other believers makes one prone to deception.

7. It helps us stay sensitive to recognize and reject false doctrine. One minister I used to live with talked about being kicked out of numerous churches as if he was proud of that. He soon started preaching profanity-laced messages online from his home. Proverbs 18:1 says, “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment.”

8. The Body of Christ suffers when we don’t take our place. Church shouldn’t be a minister running a one-man show behind the pulpit. All of us have gifts and talents that will bloom when we are rightly connected with the brethren. Ephesians 4:16 (NLT) says, “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

9. Blessings will manifest. Isaiah 1:19 says, “If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.” Countless times provision came to me inside the house of the Lord. One night as I was leaving a church sanctuary in Tulsa, a woman I didn’t know wrote me a check for $50. At the time I needed gas money to leave town. Another time I found myself stranded in Pittsburgh without a place to stay. I walked into a church where after the service, a man offered to let me stay in his apartment until I had the funds to travel to my next destination.

10. We will be victorious when spiritual warfare occurs. Often I’ve noticed a greater anointing in a corporate setting as opposed to watching or listening to sermons by myself. Deuteronomy 32:30 says if one can chase a thousand, two can put ten thousand to flight. Jesus told us in Matthew 16:18 “...I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

I’ve had Christians tell me they don’t need to go to church because we are all temples of the Holy Spirit. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary gives eight different definitions for the word “church.” Not one of them refer to an individual. Regardless if you meet in a cathedral, shopping mall, home, tent, barn, or outside, a real church is a body of believers gathered to fulfill God’s purposes, not someone’s personal agenda. One cannot serve the Lord without serving others.

It’s unfortunate mistreatment by ministers and other Christians have prompted many people to give up on church altogether instead of locating a better one. It’s often been said if you find the perfect church, it would no longer be perfect once you become part of it. God uses imperfect people to carry out His perfect plans.

Just going to church in itself doesn’t automatically make one a stronger Christian. It’s going to Jesus and then obeying His word. Still, greater things will happen when more believers get over past offenses and take their place in the Body of Christ. 

Where and with whom has God called you to?

“For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” - Matthew 18:20

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