There are many people who used to belong to church but for one reason or another stopped being involved. Perhaps life became very busy with the demands of work or family. Perhaps the church wasn’t welcoming to children or perhaps the services seemed meaningless and boring.
And there are many other reasons why people who believe in God and all that he has done for us through Jesus, don’t belong to church. They can worship God better out in their gardens or on a walk in the countryside. They can be just as good and loving as people who go to church. All the church is interested in is having their money to keep up ancient buildings and rituals that have little relevance to their needs or the world at large. They would rather give their money to charity.
I think that these reasons are rooted in a mistaken idea of what the church is. The church isn’t a building or a club for like minded people. The church is the people who have come to know Jesus as Lord of their lives and who have responded to his call to follow his way of life of love. In his lifetime Jesus started building God’s Kingdom amongst us and the church is his body now that seeks to be his presence in the world. We all have different gifts and talents and different ways we can contribute to building God’s Kingdom on earth and when believers come together they can do this far more effectively. A team working together achieves far more than one person on their own.
A church should be modelling God’s love in community, showing how people should be behaving towards each other, justly, caring, supporting, forgiving, encouraging, giving to all in need.
A church is also a gathering for worshipping God together. Yes, we can worship on our own and we can read the scriptures and learn about God with books or the internet and through personal prayer, but in those scriptures we learn that God really wants us to do it together. He tells us that we need each other to understand His will for us and that when we come together and are united in our prayers he will answer them.
A church is not made up of people who think they are better than those who don’t belong. A church is made up of people who know they are far from perfect and they own up to their shortcomings knowing that they need the help and forgiveness of God and others.
If our church isn’t like this it needs to change!
In the prayer that Jesus taught us we ask that God’s Kingdom will come on earth – a Kingdom in which everyone acknowledges God’s way. As church, as Jesus’ body on earth today, we pray and work for this to come. Our troubled and divided world desperately needs to hear this message.
Sunday 25th September has been designated ‘Back to Church Sunday’ and gives an opportunity for churchgoers to invite their friends, neighbours and family to come along to church with them. Do think about who you could invite, and if you are one who would like to come back please do – we need you to help us to be the church God intends us to be to worship and witness and work together for His Kingdom.