Written by Thomas Manning
Why do you go to church? Take a moment and think about it. Do you go for the worship? The message? All of the above? Is church your escape when things aren’t going well? After all, Jesus Himself said, “Come to me all who are weary, and I will give you rest.”All around the world, millions of people go to church every weekend, and for some, it’s something that’s become a life-pattern, a date on their calendar, a tradition and nothing more. Church can become something we just attend.
“It’s a Sunday, we need to (or should) attend church.”
Do you go to church just to attend it? Because Jesus never called us to attend. Jesus calls us to experience, to grow, and to ultimately be the church.
In the Bible, the church wasn’t a building of stone or brick. It meant the assembly of believers of Jesus Christ, who gathered to worship and glorify God, to build each other up and grow into more mature followers, who could then go out and change the world.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17)
In fact, it’s my belief that a church service isn’t nearly as important as what happens following a church service. The whole idea of gathering together as the church is to equip ourselves with the mission that Jesus gave us.
And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8b)
If a school is designed to teach and equip us to become educated in order to get a job and live a financially stable life, then the church is designed to teach and equip us to become educated in order to live a fulfilling, spiritual life.
So how can you be sure you are someone who experiences church and doesn’t just “attend” it?
1. Building our faith through worship – Worship is more than just singing songs together, it’s a time where we glorify and praise God in melodic song, to give Him all the honor and humble ourselves before Him.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. (Hebrews 12:28)
2. Equipping our spirit through the message – The message, or sermon, of a church service is designed to give us practical applications and teachings so that we can understand what happened over 2,000 years ago, and how it applies to us today in our modern world.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
3. Applying the experience to our daily lives – While church can be one of the best places to escape, it should also act as a place to equip ourselves to go back out into the world. Rather than thinking of church as a hideout, where you can go and feel safe and secure, consider looking at it as a headquarters, where you’ve returned to rest and equip yourselves with the armor and weapons of God, so when it’s time to leave, you’re ready for anything that stands against you.
Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. (Ephesians 6:11)
4. Joining together to be kingdom builders – We are the church, and Jesus calls us to build the kingdom of God in our home, our community, nation, and world. Each of us is only one person, but together we form the body of Christ, and this gives us the capacity to be chain breakers, world changers, and we can help to bring the kingdom of God here on earth, as it is in heaven.
Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (Hebrews 10: 24-25)
If I could encourage you today, don’t just attend church, but experience it and apply it. Go out and be the church to someone who needs it!
Thomas Manning is a graduate of the Northeast Ministry School and currently serves as the Ambridge campus director. Thomas and his wife, who also serves at Ambridge as the production director, have been married for eight years and have three young boys.