Welcome: An Introduction

Sharing the insights I discover as I explore and experience the mystery that is our reality. Join me in my journey and share yours.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Church: What does it mean to you?

I've been thinking a lot about church lately and what it means to me and I'd love to hear some thoughts from my readers on this topic.

For many Christians church is very important. It is a place to go where you can enter into corporate worship with others, listen to sermons and have a sense of community with fellow believers.

Perhaps some of us have said this at one point or another, certainly most of us have heard one utter this phrase before: I don't need church, my church is outside in nature.

I can certainly relate to that sentiment. I find great peace and moments of reflection when I am in the midst of the natural world. God's glory permeates and resounds through all of creation and it is very easy to feel close to God, enter into prayer and open up to His presense when I am settled atop my favorite rocky perch nestled lazily at the crook of the river's bend.

But to say that one doesn't need a church and that one can find true spiritual fulfillment in nature alone, is that biblical? Or even possible? It might be possible at first glance. It makes us feel good, it certainly elicits pleasurable feelings of peace and a connectedness with our Creator. And those moments of solitude are necessary and precious, don't get me wrong, I certainly value them! These are my own thoughts here...but the way I think of all of this is that God doesn't dwell in us so that we might dwell in Him alone. God is love and love should be shared!

When we read the gospel and witness the wonders and miracles of Jesus we see that he had his moments of solitude but was oftentimes in the thick of the crowds. He had disciples he shared his teachings and time with and he ministered to people. When we feast upon the spiritual manna which is God's Word, our hearts begin to cultivate that same Christ-like desire...to reach out to the poor, to the suffering, to break bread with our brothers and sisters.

The more I pray and reflect on things the more I start to see the church far exceeding the walls of any one building. The church is the body of Christ and whose members are those who have chosen to follow and love Christ, acknowledging his divine nature and his sacrifice. There is only one church!

Scripture describes it this way:

1 Corinthians 12:12-14
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[a] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Is it possible to be part of the body of Christ and work in harmony among its members without being part of a church? One can find a connection and fellowship with other christians serving out in local missions without being involved in a church. In this age of technology it is so easy to upload a sermon and receive spirit-filled teachings. Wherever two or more are gathered there is fellowship, so it's quite easy to worship corporately with others without worshipping in a church.

Given all that, is church still necesssary?

I'm starting to come to the conclusion that the one thread that really holds the necessity of having a local church is the sense of community it provides. With any interest there is a group to support and cultivate knowledge and growth in that interest. There are bowling leagues for bowling enthusiasts, scrapbooking clubs, etc. Name your interest and there's most likely a group of like-minded individuals that have formed a group centered around that theme!

What does church mean to me?

To answer my own question...certainly a church is not necessary  for one's salvation but I do think in terms of growth and finding opportunities to be part of the body of Christ, it can make all of the difference! Church, to me, means community. In my opinion from what I've read of scripture it should be a place that supports, encourages and instructs those believers within its local community to live out their lives in a spirit-filled manner to live like Jesus! And then take that love and compassion that is cultivated in the local garden of believers and sow those seeds among others in the local community and across the globe! Thus yielding a beautiful harvest reflecting the glory of God and helping to manifest His kingdom here on earth!

So...what does church mean to you? What keeps you going...or what has stopped you from going?


  1. Going to Church has been something that has lacked in my life for quite awhile. What stopped me from attending was the hypocrisy that was present, and how the bigger the congregation got, the more important money became. We are currently searching a Church that we can become a part of that community for worship. Hopefully, living where we live now, we will find something downscale and become involved again.

  2. Amen! To me church is not a building, a denomination, or doctrine of an organized religion. There is only one church and it's made up of the body of believers in Jesus Christ and his shed blood for us. They recognize that the Bible is indeed the inspired Word of God. Church is a place we gather to be ministered to, to learn, to grow, to be convicted, to be renewed and refreshed, and also armed to face what life throws at us and others. It's a place where we share in our church family's lives, and worship and praise God openly in harmony with other believers. It's the place where we are refined as tools to be used for the Lord collectively, and individually. The only human hands God has on Earth are ours as members of the body of Christ. The only human feet He has on Earth are ours as members of the body of Christ. Church is a community in action; one not confined to four walls.

  3. Yes I agree with all the above, however, I do also agree with the scripture that says foresake not the assembling together like some, but even more so as you see the day approaching. The day when our Saviour is fast approaching as we see the turmoil in the mid east. The last empire spoken of in Daniel is assembling today and it is the final kingdom before Christ returns. We need to assemble to gain strength in these times, to be accountable to one another. And also, to reach out to those who are sorely affected by the results of living without hope in this present age. Not go to Church??? I tried that and did not work, I only drifted away from the One who loves me so much.

  4. I was raised a Baptist (my grandfather was a pastor), but I've since become ecumenical. I don't adhere to doctrines of any organized religion now. But that's not to say I don't go to church anymore. I still do, though not as often.

    I believe that church is not a building. After all, we can pray, fellowship with other believers (the "community" you mentioned), and hear/read God's Word anywhere. But I also believe that being in church gets us in the right spirit and to be part of a spiritual community.

  5. I think the Church still has a major role in 'community'. But Churches while being a constant,are also evolving. I could tell you about the work my daughter does with her church and how they are developing policies and practices to extend successfully their work in the community.
    I've seen it in action and think the work they're doing is marvellous.

  6. The church should be "a place that supports, encourages and instructs those believers within its local community to live out their lives in a spirit-filled manner to live like Jesus." Yes, that is what church should be...a true "fellowship" of believers. But this can be hard to find...and some people give up. Part of the problem is that we have confused "socialization" and "fellowship" in too many US churches. They are not one and the same. Superficial chit-chat at a pot-luck-dinner or softball game is not fellowship. It is socialization. Socialization is something we all need, but it can not replace true fellowship. Fellowship is more than that - it is sharing the spiritual life together. Praying together, ministering to one another, holding each other accountable, encouraging each other in the spiritual walk of faith, etc. I have had 2 posts recently on this issue of Christian "fellowship" on my own blog. Thanks for your post!

  7. Another outstanding post Jessica. All of your words are true. Everything you say about church and fellowship and the one body is precise. So I’ll make a feeble effort to answer your question, “What keeps you going… or what has stopped you from going?”
    Okay I’ll try to be succinct. Our beloved priest left our parish a couple of years ago. I was devastated at the news of his leaving, and have only been back a few times since, as no other priest could fill his shoes. But I haven’t forsaken the assembling of myself with other believers in the sense of meeting with “two or more” and finding fellowship with close friends who have the same passion for Christ.

  8. Reading the earlier comments, I feel that they have succintly said whatever I meant to say. Presently I don't go to Church as I am away for work in a different place. I don't feel like going to any church here because I don't know anyone and I really don't want to just go to Church because it is a Sunday. Back home, we go to a particular church where we get to hear the word for an hour in greater depth. The pastor very skilfully explicates and explains all that we need to know for our nurture and nourishing. Well, that does not mean that he says only 'good' things which we would like to hear. He does not sugarcoat anything. The truth is what he says. We eagerly wait for Sunday to hear him explain things. And that also does not mean that we go to Church for him alone.
    Well, this going to Church regularly, just because it is Sunday is something I find quite ritualistic and mechanical. It is with joy we should go to church. But Church does not offer only spiritual insights, there are many other things that we unconsciously learn there: discipline, community life, patience, etc.

    Thanks for enabling me to think, dear Jessica.

    Joy always,

  9. Mary, I will be praying that you and your husband find a wonderful community of Christians, in a spirit-filled word-centered church! Thanks for sharing. Isn't it to bad how sometimes people can really ruin a church with hypocrisy, gossip, church politics, etc??? It's an unfortunate reality...I hadn't really seen too much of that until recently, I think it really is a threat to most churches, especially as they get bigger, for it indeed causes people to leave or be less involved because they don't want to get into the controversy...people like us that want nothing to do with it!

  10. Jeanne, Amen! I love how you put it:

    The only human hands God has on Earth are ours as members of the body of Christ. The only human feet He has on Earth are ours as members of the body of Christ. Church is a community in action; one not confined to four walls.

    So true. Thank you for your comment!

  11. Ed...I agree with you! Personally, I couldn't imagine not going to church! I think it's important to have a sense of community and fellowship for through that you get relationships with people that you can pray with, share your trials and struggles with and be held accountable for those areas one might need help on. Accountability in a christian's life is really important, I feel. And being part of a church community helps foster and cultivate that.

    Thanks for your comment :)

  12. Aj, great thoughts, thanks so much for sharing them! I agree...it isn't necessary for one can find instruction anywhere but have a place where you can come to receive instruction, fellowship, enter into corporate worship, as you say : ... gets us in the right spirit and to be part of a spiritual community.

    Church can be, and I believe it usually is unless there's something wrong, a place of great spiritual refreshment, renewel and support. And couldn't we all use that? :)

  13. Jim...you're daughter's church sounds amazing! That's awesome that they are actively finding new ways to work within the community. A beautiful thing. May it inspire other churches in the area that might not be taking such initiatives to do the same! Thanks for sharing :)

  14. Light...thanks so much for your thoughts. You're right, there is difference between mere socialization and fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Sometimes it can seem like those we go to church with us have very little in common with us, I know I've felt that way before. What I've come to understand is that even though many of the superficial things in our lives may vary and perhaps be totally opposite of eachother, we have the most important thing in common...we have Christ alive in our hearts!

    Thanks for your comment, and always feel free to leave you blog's address..it's a great blog and many would benefit from reading it :)

  15. Debra, you are blessed to have close friends that you can find fellowship with! That's one area that's kind of lacking with me personally. So sorry your priest left your parish, that can be really difficult when someone you trust and who has a certain style of preaching leaves :( Glad that you are still filled with the Spirit though! You are a beautiful sister in Christ and always an inspiration for me. ~ blessings

  16. Susan, thanks so much for sharing! When I went away to college I found it tough to find a new church and when I thought I finally found something that fit, I ended up moving shortly after! It's hard sometimes searching for churches alone...I know I've had quite a bit of different, and sometimes strange and unnerving experiences myself doing that! I used to try all different kinds of churches by myself...and got fully immersed by the diversity of the denominations! I would always miss my pastor's preaching back home, that was steeped in truth and light and life and upheld by the Word of God. ~blessings

  17. If you want community then you want church. If you're like me and blaze your own trails, go with nature. But realize this, Adam lived in a garden, Jesus was tempted on a mountain, Moses found God in the desert, Abraham on a mountain, Moses watched as God destroyed society, and on and on. There are plenty of places in the bible to justify searching for God in nature.

  18. What a great point Justin, hadn't thought of it that way...thanks...gave me much to reflect on :)

  19. Great post Jessica. As someone who is new to full-time church employment, after working for the last 20 years in a very-non-church environment, training fighter pilots, I often wonder about the role the church is supposed to play. And as our church administrator, the person who deals with church finances, I see a whole other side of church life. I do believe the church is needed and I believe that the church is the "innkeeper" mentioned by Jesus in the good samaritan in Luke 10;34-15, "He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coinse and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’"
    The innkeeper had his inn on a lonely stretch of road, in a very dangerous place. An innkeeper is responsible for bandaging up, helping out, and listening to those that God brings our way. We pour out our lives, tell our stories, and wait for those we wait on to get better. Sometimes those that we have helped out and poured into leave; that is okay, perhaps they were meant to be in our life for a short time, perhaps, they too, are called to the life of an innkeeper. An innkeeper is a lonely but fulfilling life, We won't get fully paid in this lifetime, but our payment will be enough when we see Jesus, our Innkeeper, who found us on a lonely stretch of road, on the way to nowhere, who took us in, bandaged us up, and committed Himself to us until we were well enough to live again.

  20. Thanks Jessica, a really helpful post. I've written myself on this issue having thought a bit about when we planted a new church a few years ago. The best book I've read on church is 'Total Church' by Tim Chester. Here are my thoughts:


    and my series on the church:


    God Bless,


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