Many may not identify at first with my next statement, but work with me a bit, OK? I missed church the last two weeks. The pic above tells why I physically missed it. Six years ago we rented out our Temecula house and moved to Thousand Oaks for a job, planning on returning to our home of 21 years. Those six years of renters’ neglect transformed a nice house into one needing work. Just one example, the once-green bank became what you see above—barren and dead, except for an 8’ tall weed/tree, along with a broken fence. Interior issues were worse. So, the last two weeks I missed church to get the place ready to move back in. I realize some followers attend worship rarely or sporadically, and “miss” it more than I. But they may not miss it. Get it?
Here’s why I spiritually missed it, and why I missed it more than many of those followers for whom church has little meaning. I need regular connecting with fellow followers of Jesus. Ones I see regularly. Ones who know me. Ones who impact my life. Honestly, that’s the normal Christian life—committed to and connected intimately to a group. But that does not have to be a “typical” church.
The form of our connecting may vary, but the early church patterned some essential guidelines for our groups: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). Commitment to togetherness. Biblical teaching. Deep connection with one another. Communion. Prayer. Those traits form the heart of a biblical church. Now, why should we connect in this manner with others? I’ll give you just enough to tease and get you pondering, OK?
Obedience-we’re commanded to gather regularly, just think about “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing” (Hebrews 10:25). God designed us to gather.
Personal support. When we commit to a group, we give and receive personal support. Just one example, a couple in our group offered to bring us a meal the night our house gets all packed. Essential, no, but greatly appreciated in making a move a bit easier.
Chances to serve and develop. In the context of a greater body, we have more opportunities to develop our talents and gifts for a greater good than ourselves.
Accountability. Too many times in my life, a close brother has told me of a weakness I had, that I didn’t recognize either its existence or its significance. Without the close connection and our history, I wouldn’t have listened. To my loss.
Enhanced worship. Some of my best worship is on the motorcycle cruising through mountain roads, or fishing on a trout stream or just reading a passage and being gripped by it. But we find a totally new dimension of worship when we do it corporately; I feel like body surfing, riding a wave surrounded by others.
Kick Starting the Application
How involved are you with a group of fellow believers or seekers? Does the group match the traits above? Why did you choose that level? Of the five benefits above, which most speaks to your heart? Which is the biggest struggle? Why? Do you sense God calling you to deepen your connection with other Christians? How? If so, what is the biggest obstacle?