What is church?
It simply means assembly, or gathering.
So church could be bumping into my mate in sainsburys?
Not quite.. It’s a particular type of gathering, those who hold to the promises of Jesus. Church involves intentional gathering to be with God, to read the Bible and learn direction and prayer. It’s not just a chitchat and catching up on the weeks events.
Is church a building?
No, it is a community. Like with the coronavirus, we are seeing people do church without a single building, yet still being a church.
What about denominations?
Well there’s really Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox, then there’s some divisions within but generally very similar. Why do these divisions happen? Well usually a church goes rogue, tries to add or subtract, meanwhile the mainline church doesn’t involve themselves and there you go, another denomination. That’s not how all emerge but how a lot of them do. So sometimes denominations appear to protect the church from churches that go rogue from core Christian values.
Why would I need it?
Yes, a Christian really cannot function healthily without a church. Firstly because Jesus said that’d what he wanted to create. Jesus talks about the body of the church, a body has many parts, and doesn’t do as well without them!
Secondly serving Jesus involves serving his people. Jesus talks about serving our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Thirdly, we are to encourage one another, this is essential and a Godly thing to do in a healthy church.
Forth, accountability. A good church helps keep you accountable and truly cares about your life.
Fifth, your church needs you. We have amazing talents we are starving the church of having. What you’re good at could fundamentally transform your church community.
What makes a good church?
A culture of learning. If we’re willing to learn and grow, and not just march in with an assumption we know everything, we will be transformed by God’s word. Worship. Singing together, listening to preaching together is such a wonderful occasion that you don’t get from watching reruns of the sermon 2 days later.
Community. Sharing everything with each other made a great church. Let us have this attitude of family and love to one another. This is more than a 20 minute catchup after the service Admittedly this was different during the coronavirus!
Growth. The culmination of church activity and faithful devotion in numbers is something God says he will bless and help grow healthily.
How do I pick a church?
Well, plan ahead, do your research, you don’t want to risk walking in on some cultic extremist church. See what churches are in your area. Use your discernment: Does the church align with biblical teaching? Maybe bring a trustworthy friend along. And don’t take too long otherwise you’ll never find a home and turn into a homeless church hopper. On the other side, don’t be too quick, don’t be wowed by the building etc. Make wise, calculated, healthy decisions.
Hasn’t the church been extremely harmful?
There have been horror stories from some churches which I cannot defend, but not can Jesus. A church should be built on Jesus, not their abusive desires. Churches should have accountability to others in leadership. If you have been hurt by a church I’m extremely sorry. If a church doesn’t follow the framework of Jesus it has a higher risk of damaging someone.
But to emphasise, no one’s perfect, we all make mistakes, but in Jesus’ church, some of the extreme abuses have no justification. At all.
But what I can confidently say is historically, the church has been a force for incredible good over harm, I’d be damned to think the last 2,000 years would’ve been better without Christianity,
How is church run?
Well there are variants, but generally there are these elders and deacons which, as a community, look after the pastors, so act as a leadership team keeping everyone else in check and healthy, so no one leader dictates or feels abandoned at the top. Even pastors are Christians who need a friend.
What does the pastor do?
To serve God. to make more of Him than they do of themselves. To teach people and commit to their own learning also so they grow as well. They accept the cost of the life they are living, it comes with certain pressures but is also a pleasure given by God to be in such a position.
They should also care deeply about their church and be invested in them. They’re also like a shepherd themselves, protecting their flock from distorted truths. They are also to keep themselves protected with a good team of elders to keep them safe.
The tough side would be they are to support church discipline which is always a last resort. But it is needed in times of difficulty and of course, abuses.
Can’t my small group act as my church?
Well you miss out on the wider fellowship and they will miss out on you, you’ll miss pastoral teaching from someone who commits his week to preparing a fruitful study for you. The small group is also cut off from the main body of the church, not involved in church decisions and is not united to the main church.
What makes a good church member?
Someone who attends, becomes part of the community and builds up others (And is likely to be built up also). Someone who prays for members of their church, someone who serves and gets involved in church like supporting the wider community. Giving. When you’re invested in your church its just natural to care more, so do invest, not just financially. Giving is a discipline and takes time to develop. As well as this, devotion to learning, being taught and growing.