The Church is God’s design . . .
a place of encouragement, accountability, spiritual training and relationship building for families.
And one of the things I love most about being a Christian is the privilege of going to church every Sunday and worshiping with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
I was glad when they said unto me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Psalm 122:1
I was once told I was a “Bapticostal” because I have both a Baptist and a Pentecostal denominational background. What’s interesting is that these denominations are polar opposites in the way they approach the Scriptures and worship; and I love ’em both!
For pretty much the first 12 years or so after I became a Christian, I worshiped at a Pentecostal Church. Life at a Pentecostal church is exciting! They are known for their vibrant worship and lengthy services: time does not dictate the length of church service – service is over when the Holy Spirt says so! It’s been said that Pentecostals swing from chandeliers and slide under pews during worship. They are definitely liberated when it comes to expressing their love and devotion for God. Yee-Haw!
After that, my family began attending a fundamentalist Baptist church where we worshiped for the next 10 years or so. I immediately noticed that there were distinct differences between the two churches. At our new Baptist church, worship was very conservative: we sang hymns only accompanied by a piano arrangement and contemporary music and drums were frowned upon.
So, I’ve gone from having the freedom to do the electric slide during church service, to not even clapping during worship (it’s virtually impossible to clap while holding a hymnal!); and I can say without reservation that at both houses of worship, life was very fulfilling and rewarding! I thoroughly appreciate the time spent at both houses of worship and I can see God’s providential hand in us attending both congregations. I guess I am a Bapticostal!
Today, my family worships at a church that I would consider to be a blend of the two; and looking back over my Christian experience, I can not imagine what my life would have been like without the local church.
The church has seen our family through considerable family challenges and offered us their unconditional love, support, encouragement, and biblical counsel when most needed. They have clothed and fed us both spiritually and physically – they’ve never dropped the ball! They were literally God’s hand extended to us during some of our neediest and most trying times.
Still, as wonderful as being a part of a local assembly of believers can be, it’s not without its challenges. Even so, it’s been a considerable blessing in my family’s life.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to corporate worship…
No matter what my opinion of “institutionalized religion” is, I understand that I am commanded by God to meet regularly with other believers in Christ. Hebrews 10:25 teaches that Christians should come together to encourage one another and meet regularly. The Church is a divine institution – God’s ordained vehicle through which the gospel is proclaimed and spread throughout the earth. Christ Himself built the church and said that the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). There’s a church home for everyone!
It’s not a perfect place
Some people say they don’t go to church because it’s full of hypocrites or because of past hurts. Yes, there are hypocrites and unbelievers (goats) in the church, but there are also loving Christians (sheep) as well. Honestly, sometimes a Christian can be a hypocrite! Again, it’s not a perfect place. If it were, you and I wouldn’t be there: as soon we’d walk though the door it’d cease being perfect! We are all a work in progress and in need of God’s forgiveness and grace – so let’s remember to extend the same to others. (Read Matthew 25:31-46 for the parable of the sheep and the goats.)
Don’t let condemnation keep you away
Maybe you think your life is so flawed that you dare not step a foot in “God’s house,” but if you’re a Christian that’s exactly where you belong! Don’t let shame and guilt keep you away from one of your greatest blessings. I can remember times when, during the week, my behavior was quite unseemly for a Christian (and that’s putting it mildly) yet, I would still go to church that Sunday! Keep going and don’t quit! Ironically, my church family was exactly what I needed. They prayed with me, counseled me, corrected me, and encouraged me – everything short of spanked me! The church is a “holy ghost hospital! Jesus (through the arms of other Christians) is waiting there for you!
The church will not meet all of your needs
The church is an amazing place, but it can’t be all things to all people. I attend a church that does not offer any woman’s only fellowship opportunities. So, when I first began to attend I almost died. I’m a very “fellowshippy” type of Christian who needs fellowship time with other women, especially moms! Good thing that my home school group meets this need through their mom’s breakfasts’, mom’s night out, recipe swaps, etc.; and I still love my church and grow and thrive there! The church is designed to meet the basic fellowship needs of its congregants. It’s impossible for them to cater to every “interest” group.
Go to church when it hurts – or at least go when you don’t feel like going. We go to work when it hurts, when we’re sick, and when we wish we didn’t have to. If you work full time and struggle with using Sunday to catch up on chores or to simply relax, consider scheduling a few vacation days on a Monday to offset the pressure of having to fit it all in on a Sunday. Consistent attendance shows our kids that God is a priority in our life. If you’re your teens don’t want to attend, drag them along anyway! If your husband is not a Christian but is open to the kids attending with you, ask him to support you in making it mandatory that they attend every week. “But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).
How happy and grateful I am to have the opportunity to worship freely with other Christians, at a time when so many of my brothers and sisters in Christ around the world are being persecuted for their faith and must worship in secret.
Father God, please help us not to take this liberty for granted.
I’m so glad that I belong!
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