Over the last two weeks I have shared with you a podcast from THINK magazine, in which Brad Harrub and Jack Wilkie discussed what church should be like between Sundays. I hope it has challenged us all to think about “church” differently from what the world thinks about church. Indeed, we must think about the church Scripturally.
I was reminded that church is not a place to go to worship, but church is the people that gather together to worship God and encourage one another.
It emphasized to me that we often spend more time discussing things we can and cannot do, rather than reaching out and helping others to see Jesus. We become inward focused, and when we do that we fail as a church. Churches then try other things to draw people in, and usually will compromise truth to gain people.
Finally, this reminded me that the assembly is where we, the church, are to come together and encourage one another to be more like Jesus. Jesus came to earth to show man how much God loves us. Beloved, we must invest in people as Jesus invested in us! We must be intentional in finding time to spend with people.
Jesus invested in the twelve apostles, and spent even more time with Peter, James and John. Was Jesus cliquish because he invested so much time with these men? Or was he wise in teaching them what God wanted, and developing men whom could be trusted to do what he commanded them to do? He relied upon them to preach the gospel to the world – there was no plan B. And they did just that, believing in Jesus and the power of the resurrection. Every Christian must realize that they have a part in teaching the gospel to others, and in encouraging new babes in Christ.
But we also realize that we need to develop close relationships among ourselves so that we can encourage one another to greater service for the Lord.
We know when a person becomes a Christian that the first two years of their relationship with the Lord is crucial. If they do not find someone to help them in their walk with Christ; if they do not remain dedicated to the Lord and his service, and if they are not encouraged in their walk with God, then they will slip back into the world. How many have we lost due to this? How many young people have we lost when it comes to getting them “grounded” in their own faith, rather than that of their parents?
Some churches try to ground people in the faith through the use of programs, but we also know that “programs” usually become an end to themselves, in that it takes more effort to keep a program going than not. Programs will not work if people will not work. No, relationships need to be built intentionally, and we need to encourage brothers naturally.
When I know I can trust a brother in Christ, then I will be more willing to open up and tell them my weaknesses and trials, and he will help me in my walk with the Lord. I will then be willing to “confess your (my) trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” (James 5:16). Truly, church, we need to encourage one another to greater faithfulness – and this happens between Sundays.
Let us be the church every day.