You or someone you know has said that phrase at one time or another. The trend in recent years is for people to view their spirituality as very individual. People will spend “me time” on things like yoga, a cup of tea on the porch during sunset, or experiencing God in nature and call that their “church.” It’s important to have personal time with God through prayer, meditation, reading and reflection, and it’s great to find unique ways to experience God in nature or whatever works for your personal worship time. However, it’s also important to pursue God together in community.
Having church was God’s idea. From the early beginnings and throughout the Bible, God’s people have worshiped together in community. In the Old Testament, God spoke to a nation, not just an individual. Worship happened at Mt. Sinai, and then in the Temple, and continued in the synagogues. In the New Testament, Jesus called 12 disciples that mostly spent time with him in a group. He didn’t go around meeting people one on one. He fed the 5,000 and preached the Sermon on the Mount to a large group. Jesus instructed his disciples that he was building His church, and in his last earthly prayer in Gethsemane, prayed that we would have unity and be as one.
Most of the New Testament letters are addressed to churches – groups of people. And when Jesus spoke again in Revelation, He had a message for the churches, not just individuals. Acts chapter 2 tells us that the new believers even met together every day. The New Testament letters are full of instructions on how we are to relate to one another. Hebrews 10:25 even specifically tells us not to stop meeting together with other believers. We are to forgive, be patient, and realize that we are all different parts of the same body.
We’ve all experienced hurt, disillusionment or just boredom with church at one point or another. Sometimes we need a break. But it’s important to remember that church was God’s idea, that He wants us to continue to meet together, and that great things can happen through fellowship with other believers.
It’s not just going to church out of tradition, to be able to boast of large membership numbers or to get more in the collection plate. Being together in community results in discipleship, accountability, generations passing on wisdom, counseling, praying for one another, serving alongside others to grow the church and reach the community, a powerful worship dynamic and so much more.
If you’re holding out for the perfect church, you’ll never find it. Wherever there are humans, there are flaws. Sometimes, our flaws get magnified and there are abuses and offenses that happen. But there are good churches out there with caring people, servant leaders and people who are at least trying to build solid community. It may take some time, and some faith and patience on your part, but keep praying and trusting God to find the right church for you.
As we look in the mirror, we also have to realize our own sins and faults that contribute to a faulty church. We can begin to examine ourselves and begin to change…but let’s change the Church from within, not abandon God’s vessel to bring light to the world.