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Does Jesus care Whether I Attend Church?

Discussion in 'Wesley's Parish - Methodist/ Nazarene' started by cavell, Mar 22, 2013.

  1. cavell

    cavell Senior Veteran

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    Does Jesus Care Whether I Attend Church?

    If you identify yourself as a Christian, then I assume it really matters to you whether or not Jesus wants you to attend church. After all, He is your King….not just your advisor….or your buddy….but your Lord….and your God. Right?

    We live in a day where many professing believers are being tempted to ditch the whole "church thing." In some cases, it's because they had a bad experience in a church. That is understandable….because it happens. Just as divorce takes place in marriages, pain is also experienced in certain church situations. So what's the solution? Should you dump church…or instead, get connected to one where you will grow?

    Here is what the New Testament church did from its very inception. "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." (Acts:2:42And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.) If you don't realize how badly you need each one of those things, then you don't understand the New Testament….and you don't understand spiritual growth.

    Some people who leave a church never end up in another church….they remain spiritually homeless. And many of them quickly begin to lose whatever spiritual vitality they had been experiencing.

    We can all tell ourselves "it won't happen to me," but that is often not how it plays out. When Christians attempt to remain strong in the Lord outside of His family gatherings, it usually doesn't work. That's because Jesus instituted His church for many important reasons, and not one of us is smarter than Jesus.

    And so "yes," Jesus cares deeply about whether or not His followers attend church. But it's not just a matter of "attending church." It's really about belonging to a fellowship of believers….where you are fed….and you grow….and you serve….and you are encouraged….and you encourage others….and you pray with each other….and celebrate the Lord's Supper together....and you experience God's power and grace.

    What's that? You thought the church was there primarily to meet your needs? Well who did you think was going to help do that? It takes people to care for other people. It takes you to be a blessing to others. Have you come to understand yet how important your place is in the family?

    Some Christians "young in the Lord" still have a "consumer mentality" about church, "What's in it for me?" But just watch…as you grow in the Lord, you will begin to concentrate on…"Who can I bless? Who can I serve? What gifts has the Lord given me to help others know Him and grow in Him?"

    Have you reached that point yet in your walk with Christ, or do you still just tend to think that the church is primarily there to meet your needs? That's the life of a child…and while we thank the Lord for children, we also recognize that children need to grow into mature adults. It's that way in the family….and it's that way in the Lord's church.

    http://www.christianpost.com/news/do...i-attend-churc...
     
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  2. CallingInTheDesert

    CallingInTheDesert Fully Born Again - Living In Pure Love

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    When we gather together for any reason, that is when we can grow, because other people's differences will cause blessings and trials in our lives. We need both of these, blessings and trials, to help us growing in the Lord.

    We get blessings from other people, and as we get trials from other people, we also get blessed if our focus stays on God and others. As we sacrifice to encourage and help others, there will be trials, but all these things will mold us into the Christ-like person we need to be.
     
  3. JCFantasy23

    JCFantasy23 In a Kingdom by the Sea. Supporter

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    Excellent post, point, reminder...

    I'm going to church tomorrow, but it's been a few months (again). I just don't seem to go regularly to this new church. I do miss my old church but at least my pastor moved to this one. Still haven't been attending regularly though, and feel awkward when I show up :doh::sorry:
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2013
  4. GraceSeeker

    GraceSeeker Senior Member

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    It is hard to actually practice Jesus' command to love one another if we are living in isolation from other people. Of course, most people don't live in isolation, but in community. Even ranchers out west that have miles between one another homes like to come into town to mix with other people. So, when we have chosen to live in community, one of those groups that we need to be in fellowship with is other believers for the purpose of building up the body of Christ. To neglect this is to neglect the needs of one's brothers and sisters in the faith. It is not loving. So, yes, Jesus does care and calls us to be the body of Christ, not isolated members.
     
  5. GraceSeeker

    GraceSeeker Senior Member

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  6. MystyRock

    MystyRock Contemplating... Supporter

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    Thanks for the link, Grace. Quite interesting reading - I can definitely relate to some of the posts. Helps me to understand some of the feelings and frustrations I've had recently.

    I do believe we need to fellowship with others, commit to a local church; BUT our focus should be on God and His will for our lives.
     
  7. CallingInTheDesert

    CallingInTheDesert Fully Born Again - Living In Pure Love

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    A good post to read to remind us that our main Christian relationship is not between the pastor, and/or any other person in the church, but a vertical relationship with Christ alone.

    Also, even though a pastor's position is very much needed in any church, the pastor(s) are not the head of the church. Many times I hear a reference to a certain pastor's church, or how the pastor is the shepard of a church flock or congregation. Even though this has some truth to it, it is also very confusing to some Christians to understanding who is really the head of God's church - it has to stay only Jesus Christ. No man should ever take this place of honor, but many in their prideful ambitions do. People end up following a misguided prideful man instead of following Christ as their Lord and Savior. The pastor, elder, prophet, teacher, and/or any lay leader are only men/women and no one of them are higher in value or position in God's church - just have different gifts or different graces bestowed upon them by God.

    No person should be on any kind of pedestal or held higher than any other man or women, but must be only acknowledge for having what ever graces God has given him/her. God in them can be cherished and valued, but each person has no more value than any other person.
     
  8. GraceSeeker

    GraceSeeker Senior Member

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    And here are some more ideas on the topic:

    Youth Group Devotional: Why Do Church? (Part 1)

    Youth Group Devotional: Why Do Church? (Part 2)
     
  9. MystyRock

    MystyRock Contemplating... Supporter

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    I have a question for you, GraceSeeker. I was reading the blogpost in your earlier post - the writer advised if someone had been in a "difficult" church situation, they should take a break from all churches and religious groups. Take time to heal.

    Do you believe this is sound advice or do we open ourselves up to too much isolation from God's people? Would it be easier to "hear" God if we are away from church influences? Would it be harder to start again with a church after an extended absence? How do we know we are not getting back into a similar situation?

    (OK, so I had more than one question - that's just me!)
     
  10. CallingInTheDesert

    CallingInTheDesert Fully Born Again - Living In Pure Love

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    Church is very needed when it has mature Christian people to mentor the less mature to God's perfect love.

    Church is very needed when it preaches and teaches God's real Truth in the love of Christ.

    But, if the church does not have mature Christians teaching and mentoring with God's real Truth and love, then it would be better to leave it and find God's real Church.

    If God's real church can't be found, than concentrate on growing to maturity in the Lord by searching His righteousness out by consecrating yourself fully to Him and His Word without the church. It is possible - just harder without the church. Sometimes it is better to not go to any church if God's real church cannot be found. Attending a worldly church can be devastating to growing to maturity in Christ.

    If you are a mature Christian or become a mature Christian, than help the churches that are not God's real churches turn around by showing God's real Truth and Love to them. If they repent, then the love that will grow in that church will cover a multitude of sins and glorify God again.
     
  11. BryanW92

    BryanW92 Hey look, it's a squirrel!

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    Remember that most of the people on CF are either mature Christians, or have a high degree of self-motivation (spirit-led) for seeking the truth. However, most of the members of our churches are watching TV while we post on CF. The Spirit isn't drawing them in to Christ nearly as strong.

    We can smugly sit back and say, "Well, that's their problem. They need to develop spiritually. God is God and He's the same for everyone. etc etc etc" It's all true. It is their problem. They do need to develop spiritually. They need to put down the remote and pick up a bible. But, they aren't doing it. As sinful humans, we do not automatically listen to the Spirit.

    They need some human leadership. The pastor does not replace Christ, but he is a guide. For some people, he is a guide who leads them to the point where they can listen to the Spirit and continue on their own. For others, he is the only guide they'll ever be able to see. Everyone is different.

    We often lose sight of that on CF. Many church-goers are just that: church-goers. They felt a need for something they can't describe and they wandered into church. But, they are feral in their Christianity, if you can even call it Christianity at that point. They need an authority figure that they can trust to lead them to the point where they can recognize Christ and follow Him on their own.

    On one of the other CF forums, there is a guy who has rewritten the New Testament (and has added and subtracted from the original) and is creating a "new" Christian church. He has worked on this for 30 years and, if you read his bio, you see one fact glaring at you: he walked away from church long ago because it didn't satisfy him and decided to create his own church.

    This is the job of the pastor. He has to take a person like this, who is full of the Spirit but still feral, and to train and channel that energy and devotion to a point where he can see the real Christ and then to follow Him.
     
  12. CallingInTheDesert

    CallingInTheDesert Fully Born Again - Living In Pure Love

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    I agree with what you have said. The sad part of all this is, I have learned that most pastors, with good intentions, are leading people away from God instead of a deeper relationship with God, because there is so much of the world and deceptions within the churches and church leaders now. They think they are teaching truth, but are still mostly blind themselves and leading the blind further away from God, because of their own spiritual blindness.

    Sadly to say, many churches have become God's spiritual enemy, because of their chosen blindness to God's Truth.

    There are a few godly churches and godly leaders, but they are very hard to find these days.
     
  13. BryanW92

    BryanW92 Hey look, it's a squirrel!

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    That's the problem with filling seats to make the payroll. But the other side of that coin is that the consumer mentality of the typical American will not accept a church in a broken-down warehouse with lay preachers. They want nice seats, good sound, and the assurance of paid clergy.

    Tell someone that you are starting a house church and their immediate response is "what kind of scam are you running?" followed by "what credentials do you have?"
     
  14. CallingInTheDesert

    CallingInTheDesert Fully Born Again - Living In Pure Love

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    Sad, but also true. Most people are looking for good feelings and security, but not the good news that Christ is fully offering.
     
  15. BryanW92

    BryanW92 Hey look, it's a squirrel!

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    You don't give people enough credit. They are looking for the good news that Christ is offering. Why do you think that there is a church on almost every street corner in America?

    But, the churches are interested in putting people in the seats, so they tell folks, "come as you are, all are welcome here." And the people come.

    Once they're inside, no one wants to chase them away, so we tell them that God is relative. Divorce is a sin....unless you are divorced, and then we're sure you have good reasons. Abortion is a sin...unless you believe strongly in it and we don't want to have that discussion! Want to sneak in late for worship, and then sneak back out while the pastor is giving the benediction? OK. At least you were here for 55 minutes. That's better than nothing! Do you feel the need to wear skin-tight revealing clothing, even if it causes problems for men that are struggling with lust problems? No problem! They'll just have to learn to deal with it.

    They wanted a rock to stand on and the church gave them a pennant that moves with the changing wind. Once they realize that "anything goes", they accept that and build a theology to support it.

    Or they decide that church is too corrupt for them and they develop a theology that only fits themselves. Then, they sit outside the church with their "long fringe and oversized phylacteries"and complain about all the unworthy people who call themselves Christian.

    The answer for those who can see the problem is to pick a church and then be an agent of change in that one church. We fix Christianity one congregation at a time and we do it from the inside, not by standing out in the parking lot with a megaphone.
     
  16. GraceSeeker

    GraceSeeker Senior Member

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    I disagree with Dylan Morrison because he thinks that the members of the mystical body of Christ (i.e. the Church) would better if we pretty much all left the institutional church. I simply can't go there. I think that there are some particular outlets, branches of the church that it would be better if they would just dry up and blow away. But I don't think that of the Church as a whole even given that there is no local congregation that does not have its share of problems. Now, there might be people who, like burn victims, are so fragile that they need to be in isolation as they recover so as not to get infected by the other stuff that floats around in a church. But that just speaks to how damaged they are. I think that most people, even those of us who are injured, benefit from being in the company of other believers who are trying to get better.

    I find that even quite apart from talking about the Church that people, by nature, seek out the company of others. I find that we are made to live in community. How much more is that true of the Christian who embodies the presence of the living God who himself exists in community.

    I agree with Dylan that we have to get out of toxic environments. And while no church is going to be perfect, I certainly don't think that the nature of church is itself inherently toxic. If that were so, I don't believe Jesus would have spoken to Peter about his role in founding the Church, nor would the Spirit have led Paul to establish so many different local congregations. A relatively healthy congregation with reasonably competent leadership is the best place for a Christian (mature or immature) to be.
     
  17. CallingInTheDesert

    CallingInTheDesert Fully Born Again - Living In Pure Love

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    There is some truth in what you are saying, but I also have come to understand that our society is not the God seeking society that was hundreds of years ago, or the first church time society.

    Most people are not truly looking for the "good news" of being totally set free from their sinful nature. They mostly just want to beable to keep their sinful nature and just know that someone paid the price for their sinful nature. Most people are not looking for all of the "good news" of Christ's gospel, they are only wanting part of it.

    This has all been the churches fault - by letting certain parts of God's Truth slip away and holding onto the parts of God's Truth that peoples ears are itching to hear.

    Anytime there is only part truth, there is also lies as the other part.
     
  18. BryanW92

    BryanW92 Hey look, it's a squirrel!

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    They are the same people, but they live in different circumstances. The first century church was people that lived in a world of oppression like we can barely imagine. If you were a peasant, you were nothing. You could be beaten, killed, raped, enslaved on someone's whim, if they were higher than you on the social ladder. Even if you were a "somebody", your days of luxury could end in exile or death on a moment's notice. Even kings and emperors were deposed with the slash of a sword or chop of an axe.

    People in that setting could grab hold of something like The Way that gave them some hope for a better life in heaven.

    A couple hundred years ago, the average worker worked 80+ hours a week and came home to drab home with no amenities by today's standards. They could go to a church and see evidence that there is more to life than endless toil, subsistence food, bare wood, and dirt floors. The only beauty in their lives was in a church.

    People have distractions today. We are so over-stimulated and distracted by the world that it is hard to get people to pay attention for an hour, much less to devote their entire week to God. But, it can be done. I have worked for the past 5 years to simplify my life and as I remove each distraction, I find more room for God. But, I had an incredible conversion experience to kick-start my new life and I had people that took an honest interest in my walk with Christ and they helped me along every step of the way, instead of berating me for not becoming 100% overnight.

    When you condemn everyone by saying that they aren't as good as the people of earlier times, you fail Christ spectacularly! You will never have an opportunity to witness to a first century pagan, or a 19th century American frontier family. Devote your ministry to seeking out those who can act like primitive people from centuries past, and you might as well preach to yourself in a cave.

    Get off your high horse and get in the coal mines, as Wesley did, when he discovered that the high ranking people who owned the pews in the Anglican Church were as distracted as we are. He went to the people who needed reassurance that there is more than digging coal. The churches need your enthusiasm and your witness, but they don't need your constant condemnation that no one is as holy as you are. You say you visit several churches each Sunday to spread your Truth, but do you ever develop a relationship with any of them? Do you serve those churches, or just make demands and criticize?

    I agree with everything you say, until you start talking about how unwilling people are to listen to you. I have never read a single sentence of yours that demonstrates any grief for the people of our time. The only love in your posts is the love of your own perfection. Even your love of God is a love of what He has done for you.

    When I see a family in a car on Sunday morning in shorts and t-shirts heading off to the beach instead of church, I don't think, "What a bunch of heathens. How can they do that instead of worshiping God this morning?". I used to think that, but now I am only sad that another family is wasting their life in an endless pursuit of pleasure that never satisfies them.

    Bringing people to Christ works. Whipping them and driving them to Christ does not.
     
  19. MystyRock

    MystyRock Contemplating... Supporter

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    Do you think it makes a difference if we just attend and don't officially join a local church?
     
  20. CallingInTheDesert

    CallingInTheDesert Fully Born Again - Living In Pure Love

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    You are surely a man of extremes. Look back and tell me where I "condemn" people as you say. By the way only God can condemn. So, your judgement of me being God is way off base. Saying that most people are not interested in godly things today, does not mean I am "condemning" them. They always have the choice to change their minds and priorities and this is my hope - as it is God's hope for them as well.

    I only present the Truth of God, which is meant to heal people of themselves, by convicting them and helping people see God's Truth that can truly set them free.

    Everything I am doing is out of love for my God and my fellow man - so to glorify God and bring others into a more loving and full relationship with God. People have to understand they are sick before they can understand they need to be healed. I understand that the Truth of God sometimes hurts, at least at first, but when the Truth manifests its self in people, they are way better off for it. This is one of God's ways of showing His love to His loved ones.

    If you see this as me being on my "high horse", than so be it, but I will not stop what I am doing for God and others just because you personally don't like the approach God has called me too.

    Instead of trying to re-direct God's calling for others, try concentrating on your own judging of others first. Usually the things that people don't like about others, are the very things they have a problem with themselves.
     
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