Monday, August 29, 2016

The Bride: Why I go to Church

I have read 2 blogs this week and it’s only Monday.  I read 71 books last year and I’m on pace to read that many or more this year. For as many books as I read I spend a lot of time reading blogs and sermons, religious though both pro and con.
I’ve heard said and I believe that leaders are readers.
I love the reading list on my phone. If I'm out and about and I see an article that catches my eye on a website I can hit the glasses symbol and add it to a reading list for later. It’s awesome and if you aren’t using it you should be.
Do it for a month, just add stuff to it then at the end of the month its like you have your own private curated magazine.

the other day I was on Facebook and an article called “Why Attending Church is So Important” popped up.  The author is Matt Brown, an evangelist, author of Awakening and founder of Think Eternity. It’s not the best article I have read on the subject but I saved it for my reading list and finally got to it today.
I remembered it because there was blog going around with reasons why a christian doesn’t need church. So I read both.

Probably the best thing I have read on reasons to go to church was written by pastor Rick Warren. Rick Warren if you are somehow unaware wrote the book Purpose Driven Life. He is the founder and lead pastor of Saddleback church. Saddleback church has touched literally millions of lives. Through written word, sermons, or out reaches. They are the gold standard.

Pastor Warren delivered a sermon in 2003 that is a very comprehensive sermon on What God says about church, and other reasons you need a church if the “Because I said so” by God isn’t enough for you. You can read it here but be warned it’s long.

Instead of going over his reasons though I am going to tell you why I need church.

I was hurt by several churches and crushed by one denomination. I decided I didn’t need church. I was convinced I could do this on my own.  
What I ended up doing in those subsequent years was build a god that was made in my image rather than me in His.
See it turned out that when I stopped going to church a lot of the things I wanted to do that I knew God frowned on was fine with god now.
I could simply google things like “reason’s why ________ is ok for a christian” and find dozens if not hundreds of articles why all this stuff God was against from sexual immorality to what I put in my body turned out to be fine with god.  I mean I had articles to prove it.  Anything I wanted in my little human heart to do or get away with could be easily justified by articles online. Someone had already done the work for me.

So I drifted farther from church, though god and I stayed tight. Turns out I didn’t need to pray much either anymore.  
I might have read my bible more in that time than I have at any other time before my complete surrender in 2013.
I could tell people I was reading the bible and some were impressed. Some didn’t care cuz they were worshipping my god too.
All that did was make them feel better about their choice. Thats something too. It's amazing how people that make the same poor or selfish decision will back each others play.

I could have went on like that forever if God had not rescued me from the slippery slope. I could have lead my family down the path marked “decide for yourself”.

God rescued me on February 13th 2013 as I slept he formed in me a new heart. A heart soft with His fingerprints.
It was way easier to not go to church, I assure you.  It’s almost always easier to not do something than to do something. 
The fact that you are reading this right now and it would be way easier not to is astounding, so thank you for continuing.

I believe deeply that it’s not about me.  It was about me, until it was about Him. Now it’s about them.

So thats the best reason I can give you to attend a church.
The church is full of hypocrites thats true. So is Walmart but I'm sure I’ll see you there.

I attend church because God can do more with my 10% than I can do with 100%.  That’s true with my tithe and it’s true with my time.

In the last 5 years locally I have helped dozens of families with food assistance or shelter personally. 
I have tithed and watched God honor that tithe in my personal life and watched the church use that tithe and others like it to provide shoes for over 50 kids that couldn’t afford them. To send christmas gifts to active military. Feed countless numbers in our town. Help break the chains of addiction. Turn lives completely around and bring friends and family to Jesus.  The list could go on for pages.
Internationally, personally I have helped build a kitchen in Haiti. I have served orphans in Ethiopia.  Through the church I've helped plant churches and change lives in Ethiopia and other countries as well as feed orphans and further the gospel to a degree that without the church I could not have feasibly done.
I've been part of, either in the crowd or actively participating in 65 baptisms just this year. Lives are changing. Lives that may never have changed.  People that may have never met Jesus and thus spend an eternity separated from Him.
When two of my best friends had a tragedy recently, I saw a church rush to comfort and mourn with them. To take care of them in a way that family alone couldn't have.  The whole church hypocrites and all.

In my wildest dreams, working as hard as I can without a church and that connection with that encouragement I could not have accomplished an eighth of that.  Maybe, just maybe I lead some one to God  while I'm on my own but would it be the God or my god? I don’t know.  
I need that anchor to hold me steady. I need the teaching and correcting so my vision doesn’t get blurred by what I want to do.

We can do more as a whole body than I can as just a finger.

Take away my job, any perceived status or influence I have and I'll still be there week in week out because I need it.  I've been without it and I know that road.

Paul, who I’m gonna go ahead and say was better than any of us was flabbergasted by the fact that he found it hard to do what was right because his flesh was so hard at work wanting to do whats wrong (roughly paraphrased from Romans 7:15-20)
This was a man that was all about the church. Building the church attending a church living and growing together.
If it was hard for him in a church how hard is it for me without one?

For those of you unhappy at your church and looking for a reason to leave, stop read these articles please. 

For those of you that were hurt like me, I urge you to find a church.  Grow in that church serve in that church be part of that church reach others in that church. Live out the great commission in that church. 
When you get hurt, like you will in any family happy or not you get over it and you carry on. It’s not about you, thanks to Him it’s about them. Help them, Love them. 

Love and lead as many of them as you can in the time you have.

Thanks for Reading.
Alan





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