Updated: Oct 5, 2021
This is the seccond blog post in a series on Disciplines for Fruitful Christian Living. For context on this series and it’s purpose, go here. If you have any questions based on this, please get in contact with us via our Contact page.
What do you think of when you hear the word church? For everyone, this will probably bring a different image to mind. A building? An event? A denomination? Even though these can be aspects of what church is, this is not the core of it. The Greek word for church actually just means assembly. The church is God’s people gathering together. So by committing to the discipline of church, this means being committed to a gathering of God’s people.
So why should we be involved in church? The Bible gives us some good reasons:
We are commanded to (Hebrews 10:19-25)
The church is important in God’s big-picture plan as the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:31-32, Revelation 29:6-8)
The church is God’s family that we have been adopted into and have a future destiny with (Hebrews 2:10-12)
The church is an evangelism outpost and embassy (read through Acts and see how the churches share the gospel!)
The church is a way God grows Christians individually and corporately (Ephesians 4:11-16, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11)
These are just a few of the reasons to be involved in church. But they’re important!
What should we do when church is hard?
We need to remember at these times that the church is important. It is important for us, and for the rest of the church we are involved with, so moving churches or leaving a church should be something we take seriously- because not only will there be a lot we miss out on by not being involved in a church, but the church will also miss out on the gifts we have to offer it too!
Being at church isn’t just about getting what we need- serving is important too:
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:3-8)
We all have different gifts, and we all belong to each other in the church. We are meant to be using these gifts to serve the church and build it up- that’s why they were given to us! And if you’re considering leaving a church, think carefully about that. There are some good practical reasons to move church (moving interstate for example), but often our reasons are selfish- we just don’t like the style, or we don’t think we’re getting enough out of it. Or maybe we just don’t connect…The church will always have people in it that we wouldn’t maybe have chosen to hang out with (the same as any family, or our body- raise your hand if you think you have good toes!). But we are told that being a part of God’s people is our privilege in being adopted into his family- and we need to spend time with them and make this a priority, even when it’s hard!
How should we be involved in church?
Doing church as a Christian means more than just turning up. Being disciplined in the area of church means committing to one particular physical local gathering of God’s people, and being involved in that community. According to Sam Allberry’s book ‘Why Bother with Church’, this includes:
Being committed- this should be the first thing going in your weekly schedule, not the last. It means finding a physical local church where you can serve in a ministry, and join a small group Bible study as well as going to the service on Sundays
Praying- for your church, its local community, its leaders, and its members
Giving- supporting the work of the church financially
Respect the authority of the church- be accountable and welcome church discipline
Supporting your pastor- check in on them, give them feedback, and pray for them!
Consider becoming an official church member if this is a part of your denomination’s tradition!
If you want a very short and very concise book to help you think more about church, I can recommend very highly the book ‘Why Bother with Church?’ by Sam Allberry, from where these suggestions came. It answers the question in the title clearly by giving some compelling arguments for why church is important, and answers a lot of the reasons we give for not wanting to be involved.
So what’s your next step?
If you’ve been church hopping, you need to find somewhere to eventually settle.
If you’ve been substituting online church for church, even after the lockdowns have ended, this is a time to reach out and get involved in a real community.
If you’ve been attending a church regularly, you need to reflect: have you been committed? Have you been giving? Have you been praying? Have you been serving?
Now is the time to get to it!
Based on a workshop series presented in 2021 called ‘Disciplines for Fruitful Christian Living’. By Lauren B.