“Your Church” by Troy Green
In this brief article I try to provide some guidelines to help you consider where it is that God wants you to go to church. This is an expanded version of an article published by the same title in the Petersburg News (Sept 2016).
By H. Troy Green
People sometimes ask me to help them find a church. It is an important concern because God expects Christians to be part of a church. People say, “Well, I can be spiritual without going to Church.” And I suppose that is true, but you can’t be obedient to God if you are not part of a church. The Christian life is not a solo journey. We are born and formed in community with others. Believe it or not God wants you to go to church and there is a specific church where God wants you to be. You need that church and that church needs you. Only together will we fulfill our specific God given mission(s).
Now, if the Holy Spirit is leading you to a particular church then you don’t really need these guidelines. You just need to be obedient. These guidelines may be helpful if God is not being that clear about where He wants you to go to church.
1) Worship. Go to a church where you encounter God in worship. What helps us commune with God varies because we are each unique, but that we worship God is essential. We were created to be in relationship with God, and worship is the ultimate form of communion. That the songs are traditional or contemporary, for example, is almost irrelevant if while participating in worship you experience connection with God. Some types of worship are going to appeal to you more than others, but don’t let your “tastes” be more important than interaction with God. We shouldn’t chose a church to suit ourselves but to worship God in Spirit and truth.
Also, it is possible to worship God in private but God wants the corporate worship of His people. I can assure you that this is one thing we can do now that we will also do in eternity—worship God as a people.
2) Grow. Go to a church where you grow spiritually (e.g. grow in faith, knowledge, self-control, humility, etc.). Christian growth is both dying to sin and living to God. We will experience challenges, corrections and discomfort if we are growing. It’s stunning how many long time church attendees are no more spiritually mature than they were years ago. Getting into a comfortable routine where you behave respectably, attend church regularly and accumulate Bible knowledge/doctrine God’s ultimate desire for your life.
We need to sit under good teachers. We need preaching and instruction that challenges us to move beyond being hearers to being doers. Challenges can be uncomfortable, but seldom do we grow in the same routine. Good Bible teaching, worship experiences and service activities all help us grow.
3) Serve. Go to a church where you can serve. This means you get involved in providing ministry to others. Just going to worship services and Sunday School does not fulfill your Christian duty! We are called to serve. That may be something your church provides an opportunity for directly (i.e. food bank, after school program for children, youth group, mow the church yard, etc.) or it may be something your church supports you in doing (i.e. volunteering at the hospital, nursing home visitation, pen pal ministry to soldiers, etc.). The key is to be doing something for the Lord that benefits other people every week.
4) Relationships. Go to a church where you practice living in right relationship with other people. The Church should be a place where we are striving to relate to each other as God wills. That so many people quit church because they get hurt, offended or ignored gives some indication of how challenging this is! A church is a family in which members with the same Father and eldest Brother live out their lives with one another in alignment with the family rules. This means we do things like get to know each other, provide assistance in trouble, help one another deal with sinfulness (in humility), forgive one another, etc.. If you can’t learn to get along with other people now then how do you think you will manage when you have to live with them forever? (Just kidding! In eternity there will be no sin. Therefore there will be no bickering, pettiness, spite or quarrels!)
Worship, growth, service and relationships are probably not the primary reasons people go to church. Most people go to church because of tradition or habit. We may go because our family expects it. Lots of times people chose a church based on what they are familiar with or for some idiosyncratic reason. Honestly, I heard someone say one time that they couldn’t go to a church with a certain color of carpet. Now these may not the best reasons to go to church, but they are better than all the reasons people give to not go! I hope that you will soon find your way to the church where God wants you to be.
To download the PDF for this essay click here: Your Church—expanded article
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