Til Death Do Us Part or One Week at a Time?
There’s been some buzz in the Christian blogging world this week about church attendance. I guess I’m of the younger generation that falls into the old school camp. I have this idea that Christians should be in the church. Not only in the church, but active members and participants.
I guess I kind of assumed that the majority of Christians believed the same way.
When I came out of silence about my walk away from the church where our membership currently rests, I explained in one of my first posts (God Doesn’t Throw Bones) that I don’t believe church is the only place to seek God. I went on to explain why we attend church somewhere every Sunday that it is possible.
So, earlier this week when Donald Miller’s post, “I Don’t Worship God by Singing. I Connect With Him Elsewhere.”, popped up on my screen, I was actually excited to read someone else’s perspective on the different places people can connect with God. Except that it almost seemed like Mr. Miller was condoning not attending church if you don’t learn by hearing or connect to God by singing.
I believe Scripture is clear that we should meet together and encourage one another (Hebrews 10:25), that when two or more Christians are gathered together Christ will be with them (Matthew 18:20), and that we will be equipped for work and build up the body (Ephesians 4:12).
Living together in unity with fellow church members is a labor of love. No one ever said it would be easy. However, I don’t see anywhere in scripture that makes it optional.
Today I came across Ed Setzer’s blog post, “Should I Stay or Should I Go Now? Why Should We Choose Church Anyway” in response to Donald Miller’s post. There are some really good thoughts in this post as to why we can’t choose to skip church entirely.
Now that I’ve shared all that I want to very, very, very clear that fellowship with other believers is strongly encouraged in scripture. The church is the bride of Christ. HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean you have to attend a traditional, old-school church that your great-great-grandfather was a charter member of where you are continually put down for your contributions, or judged in ways that aren’t scriptural, or where God isn’t daily calling you to worship and serve.
Our process of church membership is an entirely different topic than church attendance. In my opinion, and it is JUST that, my OPINION based on what God has worked in my own life, a person does not have to stay yoked to the same congregation for all of their Christian life. If the culture of your congregation has changed and you’re no longer comfortable or needed there, pray that God will move or move you. If there are conflicts between you and others, try to resolve them scripturally, and if you’ve done all you can do and the rift is still there, shake the dust off your feet and move on.
I don’t believe your membership is a lifelong commitment. God will move people, and people will move. Our salvation, however, is an eternal commitment, and in response we should offer the sacrifice of praise in some kind of gathering of fellow believers on a regular basis.
Do you think church attendance (regardless of the definition of church) is expected of believers or optional? What about belonging to one congregation til death do us part?