I Don't Need to go to Church to be a Christian...
It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High. It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, and your faithfulness in the evening, accompanied by a ten-stringed instrument, a harp, and the melody of a lyre. Psalm 92:1-3
I can't tell you how many times I have heard the title of this blog spoken and it usually ends with, "I can worship God anywhere." This is true IF you do regularly worship God. I suspect, though, that most don't worship on their own. This past summer I was in a unique position to test this theory.
I left the church I had been appointed to for the last three years to join a new denomination. Especially, in the previous year, I had been working many hours, six to seven days a week. I was exhausted mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I found myself without a church to serve and was not sure where God was leading me. I needed rest.
That said, I just wasn't ready to find a new church. I thought with some rest, I would soon be ready to worship in community. What I found though, is July turned into August which turned into September and I still wasn't ready to worship with other Christians.
And while I wasn't worshiping in church, I found that I also was not worshiping alone. I felt less connected to God and more willing to forgo my quiet time with him. It was not immediate, but subtle. I spent a little less time with God each week. There was just no motivation to seek him out.
Finally, in October I began to feel the desire to go back to church. My husband and I found a small church less than 15 minutes away. It was a very nice church with welcoming people. I appreciated the singing and corporate prayer. I began to feel a connection with God... and God's people. After the service, we fellowshipped with the congregation and truly enjoyed the connection.
As I reflected on the last few months, I have come to the conclusion that it is not possible to only worship alone. God created us to be in a community with each other. Individual times with God are good and important but they do not take the place of corporate worship. We need that centering that comes from gathering together each week. Sometimes we will get a lot out of the service, other times not so much. But all the times are important.
I also found that it is not good to expect from other Christians more than I can give myself. We aren't perfect, we can't offer perfect love to others. But we have the power to offer grace to those who have hurt us, intentionally or otherwise. I realized as I sat among other Christians and worshipped with them that I had set some very high standards for other believers. Apart from sitting among them, I'm not sure I would have come to that conclusion on my own.
Now that I am back in church, I'm hearing from God as I used to. I feel his presence as I write this and as I plan my day. I'm seeking ways to, not only worship God but to serve him along with other Christians. I want to be part of his church again. But my desire is to expand my ministry beyond the local church and into the kingdom. I don't know yet what that will look like, but I'm excited to find out.
Next week, I am going to spend some time at a retreat center to focus on that very thing. I'll be worshiping God and seeking him each day as I explore what it means to be a kingdom pastor in this 21st century. And next Sunday, I'll be back in church worshiping him with others. I want more than anything to be in total obedience to him as he has instructed his followers to do. Please pray for me as I take this time with God.