OK I Went To Church…Now What?
I’ve grown to realize that the extent of which someone goes to church does not matter in the slightest. You could take residence in church and it would make no difference. What I am learning to come to grips with is peoples grasping of this concept. I stumbled upon a twitter moment the other day with some friends when I blurted out the ultimate twitter sentence! Well, at least I thought it was. It’s only really tweet-worthy if it gets shared, right? Well we were discussing how our hearts were breaking over someones problem. Their ability to come to church, yet their inability to accept what is being taught, put it to work in their lives and be free from the thing that they are openly (with us anyway) struggling with.
I blurted out, “You know, you can be a Christian and not be free. Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean you’re living in the fullness that God has for you. It just means you’ve accepted God into your life as your savior.” Everyone kind of stopped and stood quiet (which is saying a lot for my friends). I wasn’t saying that this person was a bad person or that they were a bad Christian or anything, what I was saying was that they were missing the point of Church.
They were missing the point of coming week after week and listening and praying. They missed the concept of church completely. Growth. Change. Expansion.
In the words of the Daily News:
“GOD ISN’T FIXING THIS.”
Not because He can’t but because they didn’t want Him to. But I’ve noticed that’s usually the case.It’s a harsh reality and many Christians will debate this idea, but the simple fact of the matter is God will not change your problems because you walked into his kid’s play time on a Sunday morning for an hour. It takes more. It takes self-awareness. So I went to church and it didn’t help me. The songs didn’t magically cure me, the preacher didn’t magically fix my marriage, I went home and things are the same…now what?
Step 1: Keep Going Back
Church was awesome! You went, it was good enough, the music gave you tingles, the preacher made you tear up, made you laugh, made you think and made you contemplate life! The only thing is once you left there wasn’t a good enough reason to go back. Or so it seems. But things are still the same in your life. Life gets more hectic, or life stays the same, either ways, things continue on their trajectory and you miss going back.
This is where making a return comes in. Going back to church is the same reason we go back to the gym. If we only went to the gym once and expected a change, it would never happen. It is the same with God. Some argue they can find God without the church, I argue it’s selfish if you found God outside of church and you are keeping Him for yourself. Continuing the process of going back will allow you to get to know the real reason you are there, the real reason the church is there for you and the real reason God wants you there.
Without going back, you wasted a Sunday morning. And we all know time is precious.
Step 2: Realize Church is about a Person
Lets say you are in the full swing of Church every Sunday. You’ve got it down! You get home from Coachella early Saturday cuz you have to do your time over at the Justin Case Church of Christ. (see what I did there?) Well, I’m glad you’re there. Everyone else is too, I guarantee it! You got your Starbucks, you’ve walked in half way through the second song and that preacher you love should hit the stage any minute now! It’s gonna be a great Sunday morning!
There is something missing though. We can become very cozy. If you ever find yourself feeling super comfy like a snuggy in church, then somethings wrong. What’s wrong with being comfortable in church, Angel? (If you are subscribed to this blog then you probably know, we talk about it all the time) but I want to remind you of the person that preacher is talking about. Jesus.
Jesus was an unsafe, limit pushing, comfort zone destroying, politically incorrect, trail blazing rebel in His hebrew culture. And so if you find yourself in Church feeling the exact opposite of this, then you are missing the point of church. The point of Church is to learn about Jesus so we can become more like Him all while having the support of a family who loves Him as much as we do. It’s not just a Sunday thing.
Step 3: Use Your Head And Remember What You Learned
This one sounds like common sense. But it can be easy to let what is preached about on Sunday slip away as life’s trials and tribulations knock at the front door of your emotions. Remembering to not lean on your own understand can be difficult when faced with financial decisions or a family members health. Remembering that you are a son or a daughter of the God of the Universe can be hard to do when you’ve been rejected and you feel self-conscious.
But it is in those moments that church becomes a reality. It’s those moments where you see that ROI (return of investment) from those times you spent in church. When you say to yourself, I don’t care how that person treated me, it’s impossible for me to be rejected if im eternally accepted by my Heavely Father, the Creator of the Universe.
Step 4: Don’t Be Anti-social & Find Some Church Friends
Those difficult moments are also the reason why being all awkward in church doesn’t help either. You may be thinking to yourself, I’m no church guy/church girl. I’m not about to hang out with no church people, all I have to say to you is: That’s not very tolerant of you. 😛
But having the right people around you who can show you how to apply your newly learned material, not fumbling through this life is key! You will also start to notice that they’re not perfect. Which depending on which Christians you’re talking to, should be evident from the start.
That is the whole reason for Jesus. We are not perfect, we are far from it, but Jesus comes into our lives and makes us consistently better every day…As long as we let him.
As you start to find your friends, try hanging out with them and find something to do in your church. People always need help there. You will learn more by doing than by seeing. If you want the full experience, that’s the best way to go.
Step 5: Learn the Difference Between God & Church
Church is the vessel God uses to convey His love to the world. The church however, is not God. A lot of people seem to set the church on the wrong pedestal. It isn’t meant to be placed on the pedestal of a Religious mountain but rather, it’s meant to be interwoven into the fabric of life. It’s meant to be seen as family, commradery, brotherhood, womanhood mentorship, and even more so; divinity, spirituality, self-worth, identity and revelation. The church is not a place the church is a grouping of people, a living ecosystem of family called to help each other through life as we live on the promises of our Savior.
God however, is our personal Father. Our absolute one and only creator. He is the one who has written our stories and given us the gift of the church. Everything perfect comes from Him and we can talk to Him at any moment. We go to a service on Sunday to learn about Him, but He doesn’t turn off after that. He is with us always.
Getting to know the difference between the two will make your process as you go to church incredibly clear cut. It will make decisions in ministry less tense and it will ease your mind.
What do you think about these steps? Were there steps that I missed? What do you usually tell people when they tell you “they went to church once?” or are you the person who has only went once? if so, what was the reason that you didn’t go back? Let me know.