Church is simply a gathering of believers. A group of believers getting together and doing life together. So Church doesn’t even have to involve music or preaching. And Church was designed by God. This concept that we would not do Christian life alone, but in community with other believers. It has some specific things that it is supposed to achieve. I will mention a few here, but this list is far from complete.
For one, church is meant to rub us the wrong way. Okay, maybe not the wrong way, but hear me out. Whether it will rub us the right way or the wrong way, Church is meant to challenge us to grow. Kinda like that Bible verse in Proverbs that says: “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
We often miss this one. And yeah, sometimes we rub others the wrong way in church and it doesn’t become a place where people can grow. That is unfortunate. But don’t be too quick to give up on Church even if it does rub you the wrong way. Try to look at it as an opportunity to grow.
The Church is also supposed to be a place to go to be inspired and encouraged. Now try to hold the first thought in tension with this one. How do you take inspiration and encouragement from a community that rubs you all wrong. It requires a great deal of humility. Humility is going to be a requirement in this Christian walk.
Also, I think we can become better at rubbing each other the right way instead of the wrong way and create a more positive environment for growth and encouragement. You don’t sand wood across the grain to get the smooth finish, you need to sand it with the grain. That is what a master craftsmen does. That is also what a mature believer attempts to do in relationships.
The Church is also meant to teach you to serve others. It’s your family. Help take out the trash. Learn to do good work there first. It is also meant to be a place that serves you when you go through times of need. But if you will just judge a church by how well it serves you, without ever being willing to serve it, then you are a shopping client, not a family member.
If we say that we love God, but can’t stand our brother, we are liars. Hey, it is not me that said that one first. I am just quoting that dude from the Bible. He said it like thousands of years ago, so don’t shoot the messenger.
Donald Miller, a Christian author I enjoy and love, made waves a while ago when he said that he didn’t go to Church much. Basically said he didn’t find it all that helpful. He could have done a better job of explaining what he really meant. But I know this, if you wish to grow in your Christian life, you will need to make yourself part of the Church.
It doesn’t have to be my group. It doesn’t have to do Church the way we do, or even the way we think of it mostly. But you will need a group of fellow believers that you do real life with. People who can rub you the wrong way, hopefully mostly the right way though, and encourage you and challenge you and inspire you. A group of people that encourages you to train your focus on Christ.