For the first 20+ years of my life, I thought that the church was there for me. To enhance MY spiritual development, build MY spiritual life. and apply to ME. All I had to do was show up, “Fill my cup,” and if I was feeling especially ambitious, actually implement what I learned during the sermon.
It’s not just me
Frankly, I think a lot of us feel that way about church, at least at times. I see it reflect in the way we talk about how “that message really spoke to me,” and “I feel great after going to church.” Or sometimes, “I didn’t like that sermon. It didn’t apply to me.”
Now, these aren’t necessarily bad things to think. The problem is that it becomes a slippery slope to becoming more self-focused and less other-focused. When the church is full of self-focused people, a new issue arises. Suddenly, church-people begin alienating others from the church because they don’t fit into your mold of what a church-goer ought to be. And when that happens – when we start excluding people from our time at church – we’ve missed the purpose of church altogether.
The Purpose of Church
As it turns out, the purpose of the church is to love others and introduce them to Jesus.
The church isn’t here for me. I already know Jesus. It’s now my responsibility to turn around and love others. Jesus left us these instructions after He was raised from the dead,
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”-Matthew 28: 19-20
If church is an exclusive club for Christians only, how do we fulfill the great commission Jesus gives us in Matthew 28?
Church can be a little bit for you
YES – God wants me to grow deeper in my relationship with Him and learn, grow, and change to be more like Jesus. But that is not why the church exists. The church is a place where I can invite people to step into a relationship with God. Going to church should be less of an inward reflection of my faith and more of an outward expression of my faith.
In a sermon from Bridgetown Church recently, I heard the quote “Church is not a spectator sport”. Church is where we put our faith into action by showing people God’s love!
If the church isn’t there for our personal fulfillment, how do we develop a deeper relationship with God and grow in our faith? It all starts with the right next step.
Volunteering at Church
Volunteering at church is a great way to honor God and to help the church fulfill it’s purpose. When you serve at church, you are filling a need the church has. From keeping things clean, to making people feel welcome, or leading Christ-followers and guests in teachings that help them take the next step in their faith journey.
It’s no surprise that volunteering makes you feel good, too. On a personal level, it can give you opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise have that may strengthen your relationship with God. I know my faith has been strengthened through the conversations I have had with families in my role as a Children’s Teacher.
Maybe the next step you need to take to go deeper in your faith is inviting someone to church. If the purpose of the church is to love people and reach others for Christ, an invitation from a loving neighbor may be the only thing standing in the way of your neighbor’s next step in their faith.
Inviting someone to church can be scary. The risk of rejection is ever-present. Not only could it make a difference for the person you invite, but the experience will stretch you out of your comfort zone and help you grow as well!
Joining a Small Group
When I get self-centered about church, I find myself saying things like “The message just wasn’t deep enough for me” or “I just need MORE from church.”
(News flash, Lyss. It ain’t about you.)
That’s the purpose of a small group. Speaking from experience, finding a small group that is a good fit can be TOUGH. Building relationships with strangers takes vulnerability, honesty, and straight-up BRAVERY. It’s tough stuff, but these groups are meant to take things to the next level!
Don’t be afraid to “shop around” for the right group for a while. If you aren’t finding the right group for you, maybe it’s even time to look at starting your own group and inviting others to join you!
If you’ve been around our blog for any amount of time, you probably know that we are firm believers in tithing.
Giving up 1/10 of your income isn’t always easy, but it symbolizes our TRUST that God’s got this. It is a tangible way to take something that matters so much to our society, and loosen our grip. Tithing forces us to put HIM first and our own desires (including our desire to be fully in control) last. This kind of giving can be a great next step in trusting God.
Studying Your Bible
Sometimes I get caught up reading devotional books and still not feeling super fulfilled spiritually. It frustrates me to no end, but then it hits me. If I want to grow spiritually, I need to study my Bible. Studying books with a faith theme is GREAT (in fact, it’s one of my favorite types of books to read). However, no devotional-type book can ever replace the real-deal.
When you truly dig into the Bible and spend time with God, your relationship with God WILL deepen.
What is your Next Step?
- Inviting your neighbor or coworker to a service?
- Joining or starting a small group?
- Truly studying your bible?
For us, we’ve done a good job of getting involved at church. Church isn’t a spectator sport to us. However we do sometimes fall into the trap of not “getting enough” out of church. It feels like we sometimes don’t manage to “fill our cups”. We will be working on diving in more outside of church. You can keep us accountable. . .We’re joining a small group this fall AND plan on spending more time actually reading the Bible, especially on our Sabbath days.
What will you do to take the next step? Now’s the time!