Only a few know our (Joel and I’s) struggle with going to “church” every Sunday in a building with people you don’t walk through life with….
A little over two years ago we stopped attending a weekly service at any “church.” This was a difficult transition for me because I have LOVED several “churches” I have attended throughout my life. I felt guilty for not going every week for a good three months before I was ok with it. In Wal-Mart one day before we stopped going to “church” every Sunday I saw a book titled “So You Don’t Want To Go To Church Anymore.” Because of how discouraged we were at the time I was sold and bought the book.
SIDE NOTE: I want you to know this book does NOT tell you to stop going to “church” every Sunday (or Saturday or Wednesday for that matter!), and if you immediately judge the book as one for “those people who think they are Christians but who don’t attend ‘church’ regularly so they can’t possibly be real Christians” CHECK YOUR HEART! And while you’re at it maybe check out the book.
Joel and I read through that book faster than we have ever read through any book before. We talked about it and it resonated with us. We don’t hate “church.” We don’t hate the people who go to “church.” We just want something MORE than going to a meeting every week, singing songs with people we don’t really know and listening to one man’s interpretation of the WORD. That same WORD that we ourselves are capable of reading and learning from.
We don’t want the political and monetary agendas that come with big “churches” and we don’t want the gossip and back biting that come with small “churches.”
We want COMMUNITY. We want people who WALK THROUGH LIFE with us. We want people we can sit down with and SHARE OUR FAITH with. People not afraid to QUESTION our faith and our motives and who are not offended when we do the same for them. We want FELLOWSHIP. We want ENCOURAGEMENT.
Hebrews 10:25 (New International Reader’s Version)
“Let us not give up meeting together. Some are in the habit of doing this. Instead, let us cheer each other up with words of hope. Let us do it all the more as you see the day coming when Christ will return.”
The word “meeting in this verse is translated different ways in different English Versions of the Bible (Gathering, Meeting, Worshiping, Assembling), but in NONE of the versions is this the WHY. The WHY we should get together with other believers is to ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER (Hebrews 10:25 -New International Version- “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”).
This is the ONLY verse in the New Testament (and as far as I know the only verse in the whole Bible) that addresses meeting together on a regular basis. And the point of this verse is to get Christians to ENCOURAGE one another, not meet every Sunday to sing songs and listen to some guy speak.
If you have found this encouragement in the “church” you are attending then GREAT! Good for you! But some people will NEVER find that in a traditional “church” setting. There are several reasons for this, but one of them is NOT because they don’t TRY to make friends and walk through life with people attending a traditional “church” today. It is NOT because their hearts are not open to the things of God. It is NOT because they are not listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And it is NOT because they have lost their faith.
The CHURCH is made up of the BODY OF BELIEVERS. It is not the building you walk in to, the service you attend, the songs you sing or the preacher speaking to the crowd. TRUE CHURCH is the PEOPLE. If the PEOPLE in the “church” you attend are not following HARD after the Lord and walking THROUGH LIFE with you, do you have true fellowship? Are you really being encouraged? Have YOU “given up meeting together” by not taking the time to walk through life with other fellow Christians?
Matthew 18:18-20 (The Message) “Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.” Jesus said in Matthew 18:20 (New American Standard Bible) “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” It doesn’t matter if you meet in a “church” building with 2,000 other people or in your living room with a friend. If you are there in HIS name you are with the Church, for you are part of the Church if you are a believer.
“What about worhip and hearing the word spoken?” you ask. Well, our lives are to lived in worship. Worship is not singing songs, it is living a life for the Lord. Not that singing songs to the Lord is a bad thing, read Psalms and you will see it happened all the time! God gave us gifts to use them, to worship Him when we use them, so we need to do so. But WORSHIP is not singing songs in a building every week. Whenever the believers in the New Testament got together and heard preaching it was in a public place. They were preaching the Gospel around those who needed to hear it, not speaking to other believers about the Bible or how to live a good Christian life. Believers need ENCOURAGEMENT to fight the good fight and finish the race to the end, but this is found in relationships and walking through life with other believers.
There will be more on this subject, but for now. Are you enjoying the true fellowship of walking through life with other believers who encourage you? And are you encouraging others?