When we moved to Little Rock two years ago, I knew it would be easy to slip into the Bible Belt bubble. My husband’s job is with a Christian organization (FamilyLife), so surrounding ourselves with like-minded friends would be easy. Big, beautiful churches are within a few miles of our home, and I knew we could make great friends at church, too.
But is that all life is about—to be surrounding with fellow Christians and enjoy life? Deep inside I felt it wasn’t. How could I raise my child to believe the concept of “giving to the least of these” when I wasn’t making the effort to cross town and reach out?
We were renting a house, and we knew our lease would be up soon. So we started checking out houses closer to the area we served. I could tell a teen mom, “I live right down the street, five minutes away,” instead of, “I live on the west [nice] side of town.” This is our community.
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|Kalispell, Montana (image via Kalispell.com)|
I can still remember being nine-years-old and attending the small, white church on Highway 97 north of Weed, California. New to church, I was impressed with the caring people, fun Sunday School lessons, and new friends. These people were different than others I knew. They smiled, and they were full of joy. Yet as my teen years neared the last thing I wanted was to be around those people. Why? I was sexually active with my boyfriend and was watching the wrong types of movies. Whenever I was around church goers, the guilt was strong. I felt as if they could see right into my soul.
Accountability with believers is one reason why God established church. He wants us to have people in our lives who will show us the right way, and point out areas where we’ve strayed off the path.
Once I rededicated my life to God, church is the first place I returned to, and even though I was a pregnant teen, the people there welcomed me with open arms.
How about you? Do you need the accountability of Christians in your life? We all do. And if that’s not convincing enough, here are seven other reasons why church is important.
1. To connect with God. It’s true we don’t need to be in church to get close to Him, but church helps us step out of our busy lives and focus on God for a moment. Think about a close friend. What if she told you she had something super important to tell you? You’d most likely turn off the Television, set your phone aside, get off the computer and focus on her. Church does the same thing for us. It helps us show God that He’s the priority and we’re paying attention.
2. To understand what you believe better. The purpose of a pastor or youth pastor’s sermon is to explain the Bible and how it applies to real life. I’m amazed that EVERY time I listen to a sermon I learn something about God. As someone who’s been a Christian for 22 years, I know that I’ll continue to learn as I continue to listen.
3. To spend time with close friends. I’m not too ashamed to admit it, there were seasons when my friends were the main reason I went to church–and that’s okay. Even though these friends had struggles of their own, the fact that they were seeking God–and were open to Him–meant something. All these years later my “church friends” are still seeking and serving God. Likewise, most of my “unchurched friends” are still drinking, partying, and trying to find happiness in a broken world. It’s okay to spend time with these friends, and church is a great place to connect.
4. To be inspired. I’m inspired when I see others loving God with passion. When I’m feeling down, going to church and seeing people who love God and are excited about serving him pumps me up.
5. To volunteer. In junior high I volunteered in the church nursery. My teenage son likes to work on the media panel for children’s church. Church is a great place to learn service. Churches need people to join in the work, and working alongside others provides skills and unity.
6. To be mentored. I can still name the people who mentored me and helped me on the right paths. These people are still important to me. Because of their mentoring my life was changed, and I now like to offer the same personal encouragement to others.
7. Because God said so. Hebrews 10:25 says, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near” (NLT). God designed the church and wants us to be a part of it. He knows the benefits. He knows the greater good. He knows that when we surround ourselves with other believers and seek Him on Sundays, our lives are better for it. God knows!
Now, how about you? Why do you go to church? How does church impact your life?
A special Easter present you received as a child
Your favorite childhood book
Who you’d like to give a copy of Bedtime Prayers and Promises too.Or
Who you’d ask to record this book for your child and why.