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This book reaches out to those who may be suffering from anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, self-doubt, hopelessness, or the many other usual suspects.
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I am sharing another excerpt from the book, “Signs of Hope: Ways to Survive in an Unfriendly World.” This chapter discusses the question, “Why do we need to go to church?” I use quotes from Rick Warren, the author of “The Purpose Driven Life.” He shares many thoughts on why we need to go to church.
Go to Church; Avoid the Christmas Rush
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.
Why do we need to go to church? The purpose of going to church is about much more than just being a good Christian. Church attendance and involvement help you grow as a Christian.
Rick Warren’s book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” is a wonderful book that hit the world with a tremendous splash in 2002 and made the top of the best-selling lists for weeks on end. I highly recommend it because it will bless (and sometimes challenge) you a great deal.
I will be quoting him several times in this chapter to give you a feel for what it means to go to church. What he says has opened my eyes even more to the need for fellowship with others in your church home.
The first quote that almost made me laugh was, “The person that says, ‘I don’t need the church,’ is either arrogant or ignorant.”1 He lays it out as if it is not even up for discussion. I can’t agree more.
I was on the other side of the fence in my earlier Christian life. I went to church on a sporadic basis. During the football season, if my favorite team was playing during church time, I didn’t go to church. Football was a priority (read that “idol”!). As the years went by, I eventually didn’t go to church at all. I found “other things” that were more important. I still felt I was a good Christian because I was doing good things with my students and helping others when I could. I was doing good deeds for the people around me, and that seemed good enough.
What I didn’t realize was that I was also drifting away from God at a pace that was leading me to eternal death. I came back to reality when I hit rock bottom on March 31st, 2001, when I had my close encounter with God. It took words from God to wake me up, and realized that I needed to be with other Christians to remain strong.
I have said before that not all people who go to church are Christians. If you are looking for the perfect church made up only of Christians, I have some ocean-front property inArizonafor you. There is not a perfect church; in fact, there are no perfect Christians. Christians are not perfect; just forgiven. (Great bumper sticker!) So don’t look around your church and judge the people going there.
Our mission (whether we accept it or not) is to grow ourselves and to help others grow. We are commanded to help one another to grow as Christians since we all belong to one body. If one part of the body is weak, other members rally to help it heal. This is true in the human body. If we break an arm, the other arm takes over some functions during the healing process. The church body needs to function in the same way, pitching in when another member is struggling.
From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Ephesians 4: 16
Rick Warren goes on further about our command to help other Christians in the church. He says, “We are commanded to love each other, pray for each other, encourage each other, admonish each other, greet each other, serve each other, teach each other, accept each other, honor each other, bear each other’s burdens, forgive each other, submit to each other, be devoted to each other, and many other mutual tasks.”2 These are important reasons we need to go to church. We will not get this kind of interaction and care watching football on Sunday.
Another bumper sticker says, “How about you come over to My house before the game on Sunday—God.” We can fit both in, but the body of Christ needs to be first.
Rick Warren also says, “Worship helps you focus on God; fellowship helps you face life’s problems; discipleship helps fortify your faith; ministry helps you find your talents; evangelism helps fulfill your mission. There is nothing else like the church.”3
There are people who are simply churchgoers, and there are people who are members of the church—I should say members of the body of Christ. Those who use their talents to help others are the members God desires. I was a churchgoer for many years until I realized that I needed more than just what I got by sitting in a pew on Sunday. There is commitment that takes more than just going to church. It is being a member of the body.
Being with others at church can also bring you much closer to God and His love. Stormie Omartian says in her book, The Prayer That Changes Everything, “The times I most sense God’s love for me is when I worship in a group of people gathering together for that purpose. An extremely powerful dynamic happens when people worship together. I’m not talking about just getting together to sing nice songs about God. I’m talking about worshiping God for who He is with all we have in us. There is nothing more healing, restoring, or life-changing. Once you sense God’s love through those times of corporate praise and worship, you won’t want to ever live without it.4
I have to agree with her statement. There have been so many times when I am in a group praying or worshiping that I can feel the warmth and love of God in the room. It’s something I hope all of you have felt, and if you haven’t, get with some of your closest Christians friends and have a love fest prayer session where you do nothing but praise God. Then you will understand.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Start going to a Bible study if you haven’t already done so. I am always blessed when I am part of a Bible study. I not only make new friends, I also acquire prayer partners. And I get to be part of an in-depth Bible study of the topic under discussion.
I especially love the prayer time at the end. At one time, it was very difficult for me to pray out loud in a group, but from sharing in these small group settings, I found the assurance that no one in the room cared about how my prayers sounded. They are always more interested in what I say, listening carefully so they can follow through and pray for me.
Something to Ponder
Isn’t it funny how powerful a prayer grows when it’s shared with several people?
Remember: Never, ever, give up!