About a week and a half ago, I came across an article that was discussing why you should go to church (you can read it here). Unfortunately this seems to be an all too common type of article being written today, because there are plenty of “Christians” that claim they follow Jesus, yet do not see the importance of attending a gathering of fellow believers. While there are plenty of articles you can read on this topic (and believe me, I’ve read plenty), I realized something over the last couple of days.
While there is a somewhat large part of our population that claim to be Christians and don’t go to church, there is a group that could be included in that that I have not really read much about. That’s the group that contains former ministers and their families that have left the ministry AND the church. It seems to be becoming a more and more common occurrence…and it is absolutely breaking my heart.
I can recall numerous people that I have either known in ministry or from my time in Bible college that not only no longer serve in vocational ministry, they don’t even attend church. If you talk to them, I’m sure that most could give what sounds like good reasons for this as well. But is there really a good reason to be a Christ follower and no longer attend church?
There is one situation that I am aware of that might make sense as to why someone doesn’t still attend. There is someone I know that spent what seems to be a lifetime in ministry that has now decided that they are an atheist. It makes sense, if you are going to claim to not be a believer any longer, that you would not attend church. But that is not the type of situation I am writing about. What about those that still believe, still claim to be a Christ follower, but for some reason have decided that it is not necessary or important to attend church any longer.
I get it on some level. Working in vocational ministry is not easy, nor is one always capable of coming out of it unscathed. I can tell you horror stories about how ministers and other lay Christians for that matter have been hurt by churches in the past. Some of them would actually be personal stories from my own time in ministry, but I don’t want to get into the details of that. That’s not the point. The point is, sometimes ministers get chewed up and absolutely destroyed by churches and people that they are trying to help.
But here’s the thing for me. The Church, with all it’s faults (and believe me, there are plenty because it is led on earth by human beings that are flawed), is still the Bride of Christ. The Church gets things wrong, sometimes more often than it gets things right, but again that is because all of us are imperfect. We mess things up. But if you are so hurt by a church or the Church that it makes you walk away from God, was your faith really in God to begin with?
The Church, with all it’s faults, is still the Bride of Christ.
Jesus wants us to be part of a community of believers. We were built to do life together, in community. And for all its faults, the Church is still the design that God has set up for that community. Is it perfect? No. Is it exactly the way things were in Acts? No. Is it flawed? ABSOLUTELY! But that doesn’t mean we just abandon the Bride of Christ. In Hebrews 10, the author of Hebrews writes about this very topic. He writes in verses 24 and 25,
“24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Do you want to give up on the Church? I hope not, because Jesus said that nothing could prevail against it either. Matthew 16:16-20 states,
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah
If you’re a Christ follower, especially if you used to be in vocational ministry, please don’t give up on the Church. We need to rally around Her and help move forward.