Apologetics: ə-pŏl'ə-jĕt'ĭks from the Greek απоλоγία Def: The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines.

A Virtuous Woman . . . Goes to Church

Written By Esthermay Bentley-Goossen on 07 July 2007

(This is the fourth in a series on “A Virtuous Woman…”)

In starting this topic, and setting the mood for the rest of the article, I’d like to point out something about my background. In doing this, we’ll need a dictionary. Now, look up the word sheltered. Keep going… a few more pages… there. Do you see the picture next to the word? That’s me! My father was a minister, his father was a minister, his brother was a minister. My mother was a church organist. My brother and I were raised in church. Every Sunday morning, evening, and Wednesday evening, we were in church. As well as assorted weekday evenings for board meetings. We went to all the events, took part in all the ministries. Basically, if the doors of the church were unlocked, we were there. I went to Christian school and on to Christian College and University. One of the potential problems that this type of childhood can bring is what one of my college professors called the real world smack. This is the smacking sound of your hand against your head when you come into contact with opinions and lifestyles in the real world. A lot of sheltered kids have fallen due to this smack, but far more of us adapt and move on.

That said, imagine my surprise when a Christian friend informed me that “Being a Christian does not mean you have to go to Church.” I about fainted. “What do you mean?” I snapped. We fell into a heavy conversation about whether or not Christians were “required” to go to church. We did not agree.

Well, believe it or not, most self-professing Christians do not go to church. In fact, seventy-six percent of the United States claims to be Christian, while only 40% actually attend weekly services. Please also bear in mind that Salvation by Grace and church attendance are not synonymous. This isn’t about Salvation, but about God’s will for us after we’re saved. The whole issue does bring up an honest and very important question: “Is church attendance essential for a Christian?”

The answer is Yes! Why? Well, while whole books have been written on the subject of church attendance, I’m going to leave this at just these two reasons – both straight from Scripture. First and foremost, the Bible tells us to attend church. If you’re looking for God’s will in your life, look no further than the Bible. All of life’s answers are in there. Sometimes you have to look a little harder than others, but they are there. Fortunately for us, this answer is easy to find. Not only is significant space in the Old Testament devoted to the Temple in Jerusalem, and a large part of the New Testament clearly written to specific local Churches, but we are told explicitly in Hebrews 10:25 to not “forsake the assembling of ourselves together.” God wants us to attend church. He spells it out very plainly in Scripture. We’re supposed to get together in public to worship, read His word, and take part in ordinances. Jesus even did it (Luke 4:16). And we, as Christians, are to follow His example (Acts 20:7, 1 John 2:6, John 2:17). Failure to do so is forsaking God. However, that instruction is simply that. He doesn’t ask us to go to the First Church of such and such, or the Saint So and So church with the stained glass windows. He asks that we take part in public worship. If you love God, and God tells you to go to church, why would you even ask if this was necessary?

When we encounter Christians who are not attending church, they usually fall into the ‘I have a chip on my shoulder because of such and such church’ category – or ‘The pastor did this and that….’ So what!!? All churches have problems. Many churches have tons of problems. The entire New Testament (minus the Gospels and the Book of Revelation) was written to churches with problems! There’s no need to think any one problem has never been encountered in the Body of Christ in the last two thousand years. If you don’t like your church for whatever reason, then try a different one. If you don’t like the new one, try another one. Eventually, however, you need to settle into a church.

Secondly, as Christians we are the Body of Christ, and Christ is its head. As this body, and as relational beings, our dependence on each other is necessary for bodily growth (Ephesians 4:12-16). Imagine an otherwise healthy person who has a left leg that stopped growing at the age of four. Can that person keep up with a trained athlete in the hundred-yard dash? The Bible seems to present the body of Christ in the same way. Not that we’ll be running against another more powerful body, but that we can’t function to capacity when members are not growing and spurring growth in others.

If you’re not going to church, and are able to physically go, Go! Don’t stop to examine your life and see where you are. Don’t consult anyone to see if it’s right for you. Wherever you are in life, you will grow spiritually, you will face discouragement far less grudgingly and you will be unable to share in the love, encouragement and accountability that can only be found in constant participation with a local body of believers.

Esthermay Bentley-Goossen

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

mainly, what do pastors' wives' common problem/stressors?? thank you

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