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Why Do I Bother With Church?
"Why even bother with church?" I could see my friend processing the unasked question. Yes. Why do I bother with church? Why would I rise early on a perfectly quiet weekend morning, filling the time with a flurry of family preparations, rather than linger over a newspaper and a cup of coffee? Why would I expect my little ones to sit quietly beside me, while I struggle to pay attention to the weekly scripture lesson? Why would I regularly participate in corporate religion that, to the outside world, might seem restrictive, archaic or irrelevant?
Why even bother with church?
It's a very good question.
1. Community - our church has a "family" atmosphere - we are learning to do our best to hear each other and be heard. We have the opportunity to interact with and appreciate the different generations - the older teaching the younger, the younger stretching the older. We share and pray together, potluck together, work through conflict together, laugh together, work together.
2. Ministry - it's a place to learn how to serve (many opportunities to get involved!) and also how to be ministered to. Many a new mom has received meals, clothing for kids has been passed along, the mechanic has lent a knowledgeable hand, the farmer has shared yard space and equipment. Ministry allows us to explore our gifts, experience the deep joy of finding a place to invest them, and bless others in the church and in the community around us as the LORD has so richly blessed us.
3. Life-long learning - we learn from the Word of God, from Holy Spirit as He speaks into our hearts through music, scripture, creativity, silence. We learn from each other - which can be the most humbling of all - as in our disconnected, individualistic culture we can quickly be lost in self-absorption. Learning and leading alongside others reminds me that I am not alone and do not have all the answers. I need others to shape me.
Why even bother with church?
A valid, timely and challenging question. One I even ask myself, from time to time.
I go because I do not want to walk this Jesus'-disciple-life alone.
New International Reader's Version (NIRV)
25 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.
emphasis mine. by Leah Dyck
One Authority Among Many?
We believe that the Bible is the Word of God. Not only does it contain truth but it IS truth. Being the Word of the everlasting, unchanging God, His truth does not change. As Christ followers, we want to maintain a relationship with Him which means that communication and getting to know Him are very important, just as it is with our human relationships. Reading and studying the Bible then becomes imperative (Acts 17:11 and 2 Timothy 3:16) because that is how God communicates with us. When we believe that God is speaking to us in prayer – it must lineup with God’s Word or we are listening to an imposter.
With the proliferation of media communication, society has a lot of influence, even in the church. Society has adopted the concept that what most people think defines what truth is. The more we as Christ followers consider what our society thinks, and the less diligent we are about studying God’s Word as the final authority or unchanging truth, the farther we grow from Christ.
In this regard, I really appreciated the quote by John Stackhouse from the October 2013 issue of the MB Herald: “Once we give up on serious Bible study and resort instead to ‘the basic thrust’ of the Bible, or ‘the main message of the gospel’, or some other convenient generalization, we have no place to stand against that tide, and nothing to offer our society that our society is not already saying to itself.”
I have been reading a book entitled 'Angry Conversations with God' and in one of the chapters I was pleased to hear that this author does not agree with the statement 'I am spiritual but not religious'. I think we use statements like that as an excuse not to engage in truly walking with God.