Cross Points 10.6.21

Why go to Church?

In a recent book I read (The Listening Road, by Neil Tomba) the author documents conversations he had all across the country as he traveled on bicycle with a team from LA to Annapolis, seeking to listen as those they encountered told their story and answered questions about faith.  Many of them interviewed had strong feelings about their spiritual journey, a strong link in their mind to Jesus, the resources and salvation he provides.  But it concerned the author that many of these same people had no room for “church” and had fallen away from any regular attendance or membership.  As he listened to their stories, he learned that for many it was because they’d had some bad experience at church and just walked away.  For others, they somehow knew about Jesus, felt pulled to him, but never really had a past with any church and saw no need to get involved with one now.  So, why should any of us “go to church” and feel the need to be active participants in such an organization? When we say “go to church” the meaning is to attend services at a designated place, usually a building where a group of Christians meets regularly.  The word church itself does not mean a physical building, but simply the gathering or assembly of Christians.  We have developed a tendency over the years of thinking of such physical buildings as a “sanctuary,” a Christian temple of sorts, but any group of Christians who gather to worship together (even if outside, with no building at all) constitute the church. Or we think of the word church as one of the denominations, or the Catholic church, or some formal organization that people belong to.  But again, when any group of Christians gathers to take the Lord’s Supper (communion), to receive teaching from the Bible, to provide offerings to support related work, to pray, praise the Lord and encourage each other, this is a congregation of the worldwide church. I would agree that you don’t have to belong to the Methodist church, or the Presbyterian church, or the Catholic church, per say, and you don’t have to necessarily go to a building, but there is  value in gathering with other Christians.  So, why go to church? 1- Jesus tells us to remember him through the Lord’s Supper.  That’s a pretty good reason.  2- We tend to wander through life with little real direction as a Christian if we don’t learn from seasoned mature Christians.  Another good reason.  3- We often give to many good organizations, so isn’t giving to the one that helps people find God worthy?  4- If you
truly love the Lord, praising him through song and with others can be an encouragement, as well as visiting with other Christians, sharing our struggles and victories with each other, while allowing “iron to sharpen iron” as our Christian friends reciprocate with challenges to live for the Lord.  All good reasons.  We need such things and only fool ourselves to think otherwise.  As Neil Tomba in his book interviewed people who had a connection to Jesus but none to the church, it was obvious through their stories that their faith was very feelings-oriented, very immature, and caused them to have struggles they might not have if connected to a solid church with mature Christians to help them grow and learn of God’s ways.
Many issues with life that the Bible could help explain are mysterious without tapping this resource.  Yes, finding a good church with balanced mature Christians to provide such resources is not always easy, but it is worth the effort.  It provides ministry opportunities to add meaning to our lives, paves the path to heaven, and benefits you and me as we do more than “attend,” but immerse ourselves as disciples.  

Cross Point : “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another...” (Hebrews 10:24-25).  
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