By Sam Gallagher
I know it can be difficult to not only get plugged into a local church but sometimes attend one at all. There is something about a local body of believers that Jesus must love so much that would cause the devil to do anything he can to stop us from attending. But that’s jumping ahead. Let me first tell you of my love hate relationship with the local church.
I was what you could call a church kid. Between youth group, worship team, bible studies, prayer meetings, I think there were years of my life where I spent more times inside the four walls of the church than outside of them. But unfortunately as you may know, the more involved you get, the more jaded you become. I think it was the fact that I went to a small private Christian school that also felt like church that I stopped feeling like church was a necessary part of my life. After all, I took Bible classes and prayed as a part of my daily routine so why continue to be a part of a local congregation? Things only got worse when I attended Biblical university as a Biblical studies major. Talk about needing an attitude adjustment. I started to feel not only smarter than “normal” church attenders but also the people teaching from the pulpit.
I now find myself in full-time ministry as staff with YWAM Pismo Beach, and I wish I could tell you that church is a natural easy overflow of my normal life, but it’s not. I still struggle with attitudes of thinking church doesn’t do “church” like they should, that church doesn’t happen within four walls, and other such feelings. But let me encourage you, church is a vital necessary part of our relationship with Jesus Christ.
First off, I believe that Christianity was never meant to be lived alone. I know you can argue that you find community and fellowship outside of a church building but I know the only time during the week that I engage with hundred of other pursuers of Jesus is on Sunday morning. This larger community is one where suddenly the worries of my week and secret struggles no longer overpower me, because I know that I am not alone. There are lots of other Christians going through what you are going through and church is the perfect place to walk alongside them.
Secondly, I think church is Jesus’ good idea. Clearly if God wanted to appear to everyone on the earth and tell of His goodness He could, but instead He allows us to be the bearers of the Gospel. I think that God wanted to put broken, hurting but hopeful people together to dream of ways to show His love and glory to the world around Him. Yes many churches miss the mark on being missional but many hit it right on the head as well. It is really exciting to be a part of something bigger than yourself and find yourself in the middle of a church who is passionate about seeking the lost.
Lastly I want to speak to the jaded, the frustrated - basically my former self. I once heard it said that in life you are either learning or teaching, never neither. So if you feel like the church you are going to has nothing to offer you, that you have learned everything you can, or that they just aren't missional enough, ask yourself, what can you give? For some reason it seems that the west has lost the idea that church is a two way street. It is not simply an establishment to show up to on Sunday mornings and get refreshed and encouraged for your week to come. It is an avenue for you to use your giftings and abilities to build up other Christians, to love your brother, and lead others to pursue the hearts of those who do not yet know Christ.
Begin to look at church as Jesus’ idea for community, for growing together, as a place to serve and be served, and you begin to look at church as the best part of your week. Even if you think you get all that church is outside of church I still challenge you to be as involved as you can with a local body of believers. If you're edgy, look for an edgy church. Or better yet - find a super conservative church and challenge others. There is no right way to do church as long as you actually are doing church. It can be in a park, a building, or a local coffee shop. Hopefully you get the point and find yourself at church this Sunday.