6 REASONS TO GO TO CHURCH!

Many consider going to church an option. Not if they know better. Check the Bible!

1 WE NEED IT MORE THAN WE REALIZE.

Lone rangers are unhealthy. Those not sharpened by others get strange ideas. “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16). Sunday is training for Monday. Isolation is a really bad idea. “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment” (Proverbs 18:1). People say, “Don’t tell us to go to church; we are the church.” Okay, pardner. You can’t be the church without going to church.

2 THE BIBLE COMMANDS IT.

“Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24,25). The closer we get to the end, the great the need to gather.

3 THE EARLY CHURCH GATHERED.

“And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts” (Acts 2:46). “Every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus” (Acts 5:42).

4 REMEMBER THE SABBATH DAY TO KEEP IT HOLY.

We need a day of rest. Jesus kept the Sabbath. It was written into the cycle of life from the beginning. God rested after six days of creation. Part of our rest from regular work includes corporate worship and fellowship.

5 WE DIE TO SELF AND LIVE FOR OTHERS.

Can’t do that unless we are together. Common phrases in the epistles are the “one another’s.” We are called to “encourage one another” and “love one another.” The way to do that is to be with each other. It is more to give than to get: “Let all things be done for building up” (I Corinthians 14:26), written in the context of New Testament corporate worship.

6 JESUS LOVES THE CHURCH AND DIED FOR HER.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).His followers love what He loved. Going when it suits us is not showing love for the church and the local expression of it. Jesus shows up when His people meet. “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Sitting around the dining table can be rich, but it is not church in the New Testament sense. The apostles would not have called that “church.” Leaders are raised up in local churches to give oversight. We need instruction and guidance from people farther along than we are. Church is worshiping together, listening to and exhorting each other, teaching and training time. Corporate worship takes loving God to a new level. Be there with the whole family. You’ll be glad you did!

7 SIGNS OF SPIRITUAL ABUSE

Abuse is hardest to handle when you had good reason to trust those who abuse you–like parents or pastors. Jesus delivered His strongest words to the spiritual leaders of His day who were fleecing sheep instead of feeding them. Unfortunately, it is common in all kinds of churches. Check out these signs.

ELITISM.

Some church leaders don’t mix with others because they consider themselves better. Arrogance plays into abuse: “I need to do what God tells me to do.” And the cronies listen up.  “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).  You don’t want to be supporting someone God is coming against. Blind and naive loyalists do.

SECRECY.

If you don’t know where the money is going, and a leader doesn’t want to tell you, leave. He has issues. The books should be open to any mature inquiry. If you don’t get answers to financial or other legitimate questions, and your opinion doesn’t count but your offering does, don’t stick around.

LACK OF TRANSPARENCY.

Vulnerability releases grace. Hiding behind a reputation releases suspicion. Don’t trust someone who doesn’t respect others enough to walk in the light. Koinonia is not possible with pastors who do not exhibit humility and honesty. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (I John 1:8). Fellowship happens with the open and broken.

FAVORITISM.

Abusers have friends. If you are not one of them, you may need another family. This one could be sick unto death. They have their in-groups. You will be glad you’re not in it when you see signs of a sick family system that gives privilege to insiders and scoffs at outsiders.

TOP-DOWN LEADERSHIP.

Jesus taught servant leadership–from the bottom up. Abusers like the view from the top; strong on legalism, weak on grace. They expect things from others they don’t do themselves, and they are blind to their own hypocrisy. Then again, they may know they are hypocrites. But they won’t tell you.

MISSING FRUIT.

A wolf in sheep’s clothing still acts like a wolf. If you see glaring weaknesses in a spiritual leader, like harshness, anger, or sensuality, you don’t have a worthy shepherd. He needs to deal with his issues and surrender leadership. If he excuses bad habits, don’t you. He doesn’t understand grace, and he will abuse his position.

NO ACCOUNTABILITY.

Independent ministries can be training stations for lone rangers. Find out who your leader is subject to. If he says, “God,” someone should suggest he find a person with skin on. But trying to correct abusers seldom works. They don’t want your opinion. They talk about unity, but they are after uniformity. Unity requires diversity. Uniformity requires keeping your mouth shut. Plenty of healthy churches around. This doesn’t sound like one of them!

EIGHT SIGNS OF A HEALTHY CHURCH

1  CONFLICT IS DEALT WITH.

I was not trained at seminary to deal with conflict and I avoided it as much as possible. Wrong. When I learned to walk toward tension rather than away from it, I discovered that it almost always gave us closer relationships. Leaders who do not deal with conflict have unfinished business wherever they look. Paul addressed conflict head-on.

2  PEOPLE, INCLUDING THE PASTORS, ARE VULNERABLE.

The Pharisees lived and talked a lie. Legalism breeds pretense. Fake it–because you’ll never make it. Vulnerability releases grace and creates a safe place. When pastors and leaders are appropriately transparent, it levels the playing field. It closes the distance between the high and mighty and Mr. Normal. Jesus knew how to get close to people. So do good leaders.

3  PEOPLE KNOW HOW TO GIVE.

Generosity is a big clue to joy, a major fruit of spiritual health. Defensive people hold onto what they have while they grab for more. Healthy people hold their life and their possessions lightly and they give themselves and what they own away freely. They believe what Jesus said about his Father, “Give and it shall be given unto you…” In healthy churches leaders don’t beg for money; people ask to give. At Lydia House we emptied out our reserve because of the horrendous water shortage in Uganda. They needed it more than we did.

4  PEOPLE LAUGH A LOT.

The sermon is a great place for humor. It’s important for us to laugh at ourselves. People who take themselves too seriously don’t take the Bible seriously enough. John was the sober one and they thought he was demonized. Jesus was the happy one, and they figured he was a drunk. I want to be like Jesus. If people think you’re high on something, they may be right!

5  MESSAGES RING WITH LIFE.

Chuck Swindoll said, “Preach topics that people go to bed worrying about.” In other words, make it real. If sermons fill the mind but don’t change the behavior, they are missing the mark.

6  THE LEADERSHIP TEAM IS EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY.

As God healed me from an elder brother complex, I found myself feeling lighter and laughing more. This found its way into healthier staff relationships and down-to-earth sermons. We learned how to walk in the light together and share our struggles freely, which increased fellowship, like I John 1:7 promises.

7  PEOPLE HANG.

I was once the guest preacher of an average-size church. The pastor invited me to the back after the benediction, where I shook hands with people–on their way out the door. Really bad idea!. Church was over, and people were ready to leave. It emptied out in seven minutes. In healthy churches the closing prayer means time for fellowship–lots of it. Healthy, happy people love being together. Food makes them stay even longer.

8  SUNDAY LEADS TO MONDAY.

What we do on Sunday impacts how we live the rest of the week. If it doesn’t, why go? We are not playing church. We are in a war, not on a picnic. We are representing the King, who will be returning soon. We have given up our life to follow His mandates. On Monday we carry out the instructions we hear on Sunday.