I was just thinking about church. A lot of people these days seem to be questioning the importance of church and whether it’s even necessary to go to church?
This is an increasingly relevant topic in our society. Because one of the characteristics of the postmodern culture that we live in is an anti-institutional bias. People are becoming less and less trusting of anything that is organized or has structure to it. And some of that apprehension over institutions is valid. Churches, for example, large or small, do tend to bog down in bureaucracy and business meetings. There seems to be way to much politics and fighting. Churches also tend to become program driven. They fill up everybody’s schedule with forty-six different things to do meeting eight nights a week and call it discipleship.
I personally am convinced that too many churches keep people so busy inside the church that they never have time to go out and be the church! The Church should be a resource. It should equip you, but the Christian life is meant to be lived out there, not in here.
So some of the criticism of churches being too institutional is valid. And so more and more people are saying, “I don’t need anybody to help me connect with God. I don’t want anybody telling me how to believe or what to believe. I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian. I don’t have to go to church to be okay with God.”
Actually, you kind of do. Now listen carefully to what I’m saying. I’m not saying having your name on a church roll will get you into heaven, it certainly will not. As a matter of fact, Billy Graham shocked the religious world years ago when he stated that he believed that eighty percent of the church was lost. In other words church rolls are filled with people who have a religion based on Jesus Christ, but have never actually entered into a relationship with Jesus Christ. So being a church member or going to church certainly won’t get you into heaven.
The only thing that will get you into heaven is the sacrifice that Jesus made for you on the cross to pay for your sins, and listen to me, not the knowledge of that event, but the life-changing belief in that event that results in the giving of my life to Him.
So church attendance is not the Willie Wonka golden ticket that gets you in with God, but remember this, church was God’s idea so it can’t be all that bad. Jesus said this,
“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.’” (Mt 16:15-18)
True, Jesus is referring to the whole body of believers throughout the ages not to a building or an institution, but to His followers who would go out in His name to a world that so desperately needs to know Him. But remember, the word “Church” comes from the Greek word, “ekklesia” and it means, “The called out ones” or “The gathered ones” or “The gathering.” The overwhelming number of times that the word “Church” is used in the New Testament it is referring to a local group of people gathered together to worship, to pray, to learn, and to serve.
So it was God’s idea that we do this and as a follower of Jesus I want to do what He wants me to do. The Bible puts it this way, “Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near.” (Heb 10:23-25 NLT)
No, going to church won’t get you into heaven, but it sure is what God wants you to do. So the word “Church” itself means, “to gather together,” and the Bible says that God wants you to gather together, but let me give you one other reason; why wouldn’t you want to go to church? Why wouldn’t you want to gather with a group of people that you could share life with, the good, the bad and the ugly? Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of a group of people who will support you, minister to you, believe in you, and even correct you when you need it? Why wouldn’t you want to gather with a group of people who want to unite in our worship of the God who loves us, where we can sit under His word and grow, where we can serve others? Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of something that can be used by God to change people’s eternal destinies and bring hope and help to the world around us. Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of that?
No, the Church isn’t perfect. We don’t always get it right, but gathered together with a single focus of bringing glory to God we can be a force that can change this world for the good. I want to be a part of that. I want to go to church. The question isn’t, “Do I have to go to church to be a follower of Jesus?” The question is, “Why wouldn’t I go to church if I’m a follower of Jesus?”
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.