For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green – Psalm 92:13-14.
If you were to look back over the number of churches we have either attended or pastored, we might be described as either “church nomads” or “church hoppers”. In the nearly 30 years that we have been married we have attended or pastored no less than 20 years up to the end of last year.
However, throughout the years we have made church attendance a top priority and it’s not just in the season when we were pastors. And let me tell you, it has paid off. I have been blessed in a relational, emotional and, most importantly, eternal aspect.
Thinking we were settled in a church, the Lord placed this challenge before me: “Go back the same way you came’ 1 Kings 19:11-15 NLT. Initially I did not know what it related to, but very soon I became aware that it was a reference to our church life. Our season at the church we were attending was coming to an end. We had been at the church for over two and half years and yet I felt the strong urging in our spirit that the door had closed.
Well I wasn’t really wanting another church change. Previously our pastoral role meant that we were continually moving from one church to another – unsettling for both myself and my family.
We started 2018 with no church to attend. But deep in my soul there was a longing for fellowship with other believers to nourish and strengthen it. The Lord was gentle with us at this time. We simply waited. It became an important time for us.
This time taught me and confirmed truths I already knew:
- Christians were never intended to walk out their faith by themselves.
- Going to church is a blessing I get to enjoy here on earth. Whether the worship service is traditional, blended, or contemporary doesn’t matter. I am still blessed by it.
- Churches don’t hurt people. It is people who hurt people. Unfortunately for many of us the lines have become so blurred that we find it difficult not to combine our feelings and ultimately, we blame the church.
- We need the church for accountability, for encouragement, and for fellowship. Christians who cut themselves off from the church remove a piece of the body. What happens to a body part that is cut off from the body? It dies. Spiritual death awaits those who don’t make church a priority.
- God ordained the church as his agent to carry out his work in the earth and he ordained it for Christians to come together in community.
- Church is not always going to be that perfect place. Of the seven churches addressed in the book of Revelation, God told five of them that they needed to repent.
- It is important to raise your children with an understanding that going to church should be a priority. Let them know that church people (even pastors) aren’t perfect, but the church is special to God
The Lord led us to a new church. Well not exactly a new church, we went back to where we had come. We had spent a short season with this church a number of years ago on another campus. However, circumstances beyond our control did not let us remain at that time.
As I have sat in the service, I felt a warm surge go through my heart. I can’t explain it. I just felt blessed. My wife after the first Sunday said, “it was like coming home.’ I just praise God for that blessing through obedience.
Let me leave you with a story I heard many years ago as both an encouragement and for some maybe a challenge.
- L. Moody, an American evangelist in the 20th century, was visiting a prominent Chicago citizen when the idea of church involvement came up. “I believe I can be just as good a Christian outside the church as I can be inside it,” the man said. Moody said nothing. Instead, he moved to the fireplace, blazing against the winter outside, removed one burning coal, and placed it on the hearth. The two men sat together and watched the ember die out. After a long pause, the man said, “Mr. Moody, you have made your point!”
The church is the body of Christ here on Earth and the bride of Christ in Heaven.