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Why Go To Church?

Children often ask questions that can really make us stop and have to evaluate things we have taken for granted in our lives. Maybe we had the answer at one point, but now as we reflect, searching for an answer for them, the answer is different than it was before.

Last night Anna asked me “why do we need to go to church?”

While it seemed simple enough, this made me pause because I have been struggling with this question myself for quite some time.  There is a saying that “your greatest strength can also be your double weakness”, church has certainly been that in my life.
Raised in a ministry family I have seen the best and worst of church goers. I have seen the best and worst of church leaders, and it has had the best and worst effects on my life. Perhaps only those raised in “Ministry families” can understand that. Much like Military families, or Politician’s families, there is a whole different culture (and sometimes dysfunction) that no one else can understand. (I have many times over the years seriously contemplated a ‘ministry’ just for “ministers kids”.) However, I think anyone raised in church can all relate to hurts and disappointments caused by church members and leaders.

If you have been a part of any organization or social circle long enough you will have hurts and disappointments because they are full of human error and imperfect people, but church seems to bring a different level of pain. Perhaps because we do hold those to a higher standard, forgetting that even the leaders are still very much humans trying to walk out a message just like us. Perhaps because we, too, are judged at a whole different level. Perhaps because where we should be most accepted, loved and forgiven, challenged and encouraged, we are judged, measured and found lacking.

In any case because of yet another set of disappointments in my life, both of others and myself, the last few years have left me questioning what God intends “the church” to look like. What was/is His plan for those who call themselves Christians? Does what we do every Sunday really look like “Worship” of The Great Creator? Does what we do every Sunday really look like “spreading the gospel to all the world” and laying our lives down for a cause? Does attending a one or two hour service weekly, or attending yet another bible study really bring change in my life or anyone else’s?  This is the very brief explanation of why I struggle with this question myself.

I am nothing if not honest with my children. I told her I honestly am not sure that going to church, in the format that we do, is what we need to do, and I am trying to figure it all out myself. What I can tell her is what I know for sure to be true and what I know for sure to be what God has instructed us to look like. 

1) We need to spend time with other believers, we need to encourage each other with testimonies that God is still working, To ‘spur’ our faith to “keep calm and carry on” =)

Hebrews 10:23-25 “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”  –

2) We need to come together to pray for one another. (Ask yourself when is the last time you gathered with other believers and began to pray for one circumstance, one purpose, until you saw the miracle?) 

“So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him……Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison….he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying.”Acts 12:5-13

Why do we need to come together to pray? Simple.. “I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for themby my Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:19-20

3) We need to come together and make sure no one has need. 

“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all  that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales
 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.” Acts 4:32-35

4) We need to Praise and Worship together.
Because music and worship releases the grip of what torments. Even secular studies show the power of music and the power of speaking positive words on our minds and bodies. God knew it a long time ago.

I have experienced Praise and Worship alone. I have sang songs and praised him at home and felt His Prescence, the release of my deppression, anxiety, and even the resolution to the natural problem. Praise and Worship literally and spiritually and Emotionally sets the captives free:

 “After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.” Acts 16:23-26 

 but there are times when you can’t seem to muster the strength to sing songs, or praises to God. Perhaps you are just overwhelmed.  When that happens we can certainly use the encouragement of another to sing the song for us, the corporate worship, or leader …

Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. Saul’s attendants said to him, “See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.” So Saul said to his attendants, “Find someone who plays well and bring him to me.” …. David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers. Then Saul sent word to Jesse, saying, “Allow David to remain in my service, for I am pleased with him.” Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.” 1Samuel 16:14-23

So then, is this the picture of the American Church?

This is not a post to say “I have the answer to the modern day church”, rather a post to say I am seeking the answer …This is what I know is true, something in our practice is a miss. More people have felt wounded by “the church” than healed, restored, and loved. In a conversation with an atheist he stated “I need rational evidence. If Jesus came down and started performing miracles then I would believe, but I see nothing. ” (This man I was told was hurt by the church in his youth)

Now, while we know that FAITH is the evidence of things NOT seen,  let me throw this at you …. Miracles, Signs, and Wonders… Miracles are signs that make you wonder. When Paul and Silas were freed from Prison it goes on to tell of the soldier who nearly killed himself because of the shock of it all, but they stopped Him and led him to the Lord. When Peter was led out of Prison by the angel He told the believers to go and tell the others. The speaking of tongues? It’s very first use and purpose was a sign that made the unbeliever wonder. The men who spoke in their language sharing the gospel and they KNEW these men did not know how to speak in their language, thousands were saved on that day…. after what? Believers gathered together and prayed for Holy-Spirit to show up.

They didn’t rent out the Coliseum to host a conference and simulate the form of entertainment offered by the world so that people might come. (and no I am not opposed to Christian Concerts, or the such) They didn’t promise wealth or comfort for their belief, quite the opposite, they guaranteed persecution and even death. They lived in a culture just like ours, that enjoyed entertainment and a heightened sense of stimulation. Yet, they could walk down the street and people sought them out. Beggars not looking for gold or food, but for what they had inside of them.

So what’s the difference between the early church spending not a dime to bring THOUSANDS to Christ in a single day, and the modern day church who makes an altar call, after spending many dollars just on the lights and entertainment, with little to no response? That is the question we need to ask ourselves. Is church doing what it was intended to do/be? Is church about being a family, or a business? Are we changing the world? Are we even really changing ourselves? Are we edifying, encouraging, and spurring one another on through our testimony? Are we providing for one anothers needs that no one have lack? Are we praying and believing for a person or purpose that includes more than more people coming so that we can have more givers and build bigger buildings? Are we standing and believing together for signs to make them wonder?

 

 

 

 

 

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