People will often tell me how they used to go to church, but they don’t go anymore. The reasons sound different but usually end up the same: They’ve been hurt, the church they went to just didn’t fit, or they couldn’t handle the politics, or they believe they can worship God on their own, or they just didn’t feel welcome. I’m not going to focus on the causes today, but on the power of belonging.
Not being an active member of a church is like what happens to my motorbike when I don’t ride it often enough; when I want to start it - It won’t start! Without regular use, and intentional care and maintenance the battery become weak because it hasn’t been charged, the fuel is stale because it hasn’t been refreshed, and there is dust covering what was once a clean and beautiful thing. The same is true for our spiritual lives, we need to guard against signs of neglect, ensure that we have fresh fuel in the tank and make sure we are plugged into the Source of Life; only then do we have the energy, power and endurance to stand firm in the face of the storms when they come (because the storms always come!).
Of course we can worship alone (I worship alone every morning) BUT something special happens when you are gathered with the Body of Christ. Jesus told us that when two or three are gathered together in His name, He would be in the midst of them. God inhabits the praises of His people, and true worship allows this to happen. Jesus modelled regular church attendance (Luke 4:16), as disciples we are to follow His example. Jesus also demonstrated the importance of fellowship and discipleship; what His time with the disciples shows us is that Christianity is caught and not taught: so if we want to be going deeper in discipleship journey, if we want to be a good example to our children and grandchildren, if we want to be charged, fuelled and ready to stand strong in the storm, or to share in the growth of others and to be disciple makers in obedience to the Great Commission - then, yes we need to attend church - but more than that we need to belong!
So, let go of old hurts, release grudges, get over past issues and re-enage with church. Find a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching, Jesus-loving church, choose to belong and then be the kind of congregation that you would like to encounter as a seeker or new believer.
Grace & peace
With Father’s Day this weekend I have been thinking a lot about families and discipleship. It’s an area which fills most parents with pangs of guilt. There is a sense of obligation in parents for bedtime to resemble a mini Bible College, and for children to be a walking talking concordance by age 3; when our children don’t meet our own lofty ideals parents can often feel like we have failed as parents.
Now, it is true that God calls the family to play a vital role in discipling the next generation - it is the role of the family to equip children to see the world through the world through the lens of the Bible, but it is not supposed to be a burden! The Psalmist describes the role as “commending the works of God to the next generation” (Ps 145:4); the Apostle Paul taught us to declare to them the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27); and Jesus commanded us to “teach(ing)” them to obey all I have commanded” (Matt 28:18-20). Often we consider this to be exclusively the role of the parents, however, based on the context of Deuteronomy 6:1–2 it has a broader application which also includes grandparents. In other words family discipleship is a shared role, and not to be left solely to time poor, over burdened and often sleep deprived parents!
The first thing to understand is that family discipleship isn’t one-size-fits-all; but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming and it doesn’t need to be difficult. The single best was to disciple children is to make it a normal part of the rhythm of life; how this is accomplished varies from family to family and is as unique as the DNA of each home. Here are a few general ideas:
A Christian home is the fundamental discipleship axis for passing the faith along to the next generation. Parents, Grandparents and extended family can all play a role in sharing biblical truth with the next generation. Children who are discipled well at home will continue to grow as disciple makers in their adult lives.
To God be the Glory
Jen is an energetic and passionate disciple of Christ who loves to share Jesus with anyone who will listen!