Before Dr. Wile E. Coyote and I moved way out to Kentucky from the northern Midwest, we looked online for a church similar to ones we’d been attending. We prayed for seven-ish months before we moved that the first church we went to in Pikeville, KY, would be the church that the Lord had for us to grow, flourish, and get plugged in at.
Because having a church home is how you grow. True, one can do Bible studies on their own or podcast a sermon. But IT’S NOT THE SAME. The church is VITAL to individual spiritual growth. Did you know that for couples who attend church regularly, the divorce rate goes down, leaving it at 1%? They don’t even have to be born again Christians for that to happen—the Lord uses his bride for that effect on people.
Churches are also important because of FELLOWSHIP. Dr. Coyote and I also prayed that we would find friends right away. We came to Pikeville on a Saturday, so that we could go to church the following day. In church the next morning, we met Jim and Erica, a couple from the northern Midwest, as well! They took us out for supper that week, and told us about gender specific Sunday school classes and the time they met at. So the next week, we began attending Sunday school!
Sunday school (or small groups that can meet anytime during the week) are great to get plugged into for a few reasons:
- You get to meet people! There aren’t as many people in a small group than there are at church. You will get to know them, and they will get to know you. Friendships may form, if you let them!
- You get to grow even DEEPER in your spiritual walk. Not only will you cover extra material, but a small group gives a chance for questions or discussions! VERY helpful.
Which leads me to another reason why attending church every week is so great: You develop a church FAMILY. Not only did we get new friends and new opportunities to grow, we could request prayer for something and know without a doubt that there will be prayers petitioned on our behalf. We can greet people we see at church in the store, not only because we recognize them, but they are family!
There are some people that have had bad experiences with church or never feel welcomed. Let me touch on the second point first:
At some bigger churches, especially, where there are multiple services, not everyone is going to know anyone else. They may just think your new face is in their regular service because normally you go to a different one. REACH OUT! Tell somebody that you’re new there. Dr. Coyote and I were lucky—we got to the church we currently attend during a holiday weekend, so EVERYBODY knew that we were new—we weren’t sitting with anybody, and there was a scant crowd that day. But I didn’t instantly recognize people as family after one attendance. “Hi, I don’t know you!” I sometimes say while I’m greeting somebody. Whether I’m simply unfamiliar with a person or they are new—it doesn’t matter.
The first point: Yes, many churches have hurt people. I have heard tales over and over about it. But does that make you want to give up church all together? Not all churches are the same. I’ve attended churches of all sorts of denominations because to me denomination doesn’t matter, as long as the pastor preaches from the Bible and there is a welcoming atmosphere. Those two things are honestly the most attractive first-impressions of a church. (I’ve moved around a little bit in my lifetime, believe it or not.) Why were you hurt? Because of a conviction you received that you didn’t want to hear? Because of something you, nor anybody in the congregation had any control over? I find it sad that after a church has issues with a pastor, many times they disintegrate. Who was that church following? The pastor? A human being, just like you and I? Or Jesus Christ, the God of the universe? Just so you know, Jesus can use ANYBODY. He is able to use a pastor who has committed a crime, he is able to use a homosexual pastor— he used prostitutes in the Bible, for goodness’ sake! And liars and thieves and drunkards and ahh! So many.
Here’s something else: We’re told to.
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Jesus went to the synagogue regularly (when he goes to Nazareth, he went to the synagogue AS WAS HIS CUSTOM). All over the New Testament, we are told to gather together! Love one another! Serve one another! What better place to do that than the church?
Most of all, friends, I actually love going to church. My weeks get long, but when I go to church, I know I’ll find someone to hug, and I’ll get my “fellowship fill” for the most part. I’ll learn something new, and the Lord will teach me things that GO WITH THE SERMON all week. Seriously, that happens all the time. When I’m down, I receive encouragement. When others are down, I can give it. Life gets monotonous and draining, but the Lord is with us through it all! (And don’t JUST go to church—spend time with God every day! He’s just that fun to hang out with. But…that’s a rant for another post.)
Anna E. Meyer