BY MYCHAL SEMPRUN
When I was a kid my parents used to take me to church. My story is a lot like most churched kid’s stories. Mom and dad went to church; therefore, I went to church. I honestly didn’t think much about it, it was just something we did. Sunday morning meant church. Sunday evening, Church. Wednesday night? You got it, we were at church. I thought this was normal, that every family went to church. If asked why we went, I would have answered, “it’s what we do”. As I got older, I began to realize that not every family went to church the same way that mine did and that my answer of “it’s what we do” wouldn’t quite cut it anymore. There must be more to going to church than just going for the sake of going. So, why do I go to church?
When I go to church I am encouraged. The church is designed to be a place where we encourage one another. Hebrews 10:24-25 says “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” When the church encourages well, it becomes a place of comfort and peace, a place we can look forward to returning to. Being a Christian is sometimes hard, being surrounded by people who are encouraging helps make it a little easier.
When I go to church my faith is strengthened. There are many challenges to walking out a Christian walk in our culture today. Sometimes doubt creeps in, sometimes fear, worry or anxiety. But we are better together, belonging to a community that I can share my hard times with will make my faith stronger. In community we grow stronger together and we stand more firm together. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” And Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
When I go to church I am loved. God is love. And as his people, the mission of the church is to love. When I go to church I see the love from both God and his people. 1 John 4:7-8 says, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” There is no greater desire on this planet than to feel loved and when I go to church I know that I am loved.
Now I realize that you might be thinking to yourself, “I have been to church and didn’t experience any of those things”. I have been there too, and I have felt out of place and looked down upon at church. But I want to encourage you to not give up on church. We must remember, the church is not a building or an organization, it is the people of God. You and I are the church. So, If I want to experience a church that encourages me, I must encourage. If I want a church that strengthens my faith, I must be there to strengthen others. And if I want a church that loves, I must love. Rather than criticizing the church for what it is not, lets become the church that it should be.