This is the twelfth and final in a series of blog posts with my sister Betty Haynie about what we believe. Our thoughts are intentionally brief on subjects that could fill volumes.
WHY I BELIEVE IN THE CHURCH
By Betty Haynie
The word “church” does not just mean a building, as I am sure you realize. It means the people who have accepted Jesus and are Christ’s “body” on earth, His “church,” spreading His message of love and salvation to all. Christ is the Head and we are all Members of or parts of His body - hence the word “Membership.” If your passion was golf you would need to go to a golf course in order to play, or at least a driving range. The same with bowling - you need a bowling alley and others with whom to bowl. Imagine a Barbershop Chorus where each member decides to stay home and work on their part alone. Hmmm? I don’t think I’d want to hear them sing. As a believer it is imperative to your spiritual growth to belong to a group of believers.
Those who believe in Him are His feet, hands, legs, and fingers serving Him through working together with other believers to accomplish the ministries put before us. A toe or finger cannot do much on its own - but, connected to the body, which is connected to “the Head” it can do its job! That’s why we need to belong to a body of believers. That’s why, when you believe, you must belong to a community with vital beliefs. They become just as much a family as our earthly family does when we are born into this world. Just as our mothers and fathers nurture, protect and care for our needs as babies, our church family nurtures, protects and cares for each of those who are “born” into the family of God.
I am sorry some of you have had bad experiences with church people. BUT… we (the mature church goers) are constantly seeking God and forgiveness and are far from perfect in every way, so please forgive those who behave adversely, in their ignorance, pettiness, whatever..., so that God can forgive you for the times when you may have been less than perfect. Don’t reject the message because of the messenger!
God wants a relationship with you. Of course you can have this by yourself, but most of us would not stick to the course alone. We would tend to revert back to old habits and procrastinate about reading the bible or praying. We need others with whom to bounce around our ideas and to learn from. We need others for love and acceptance. Birds of a feather.......you know the rest. It’s really hard to grow when you have no teachers or examples by which to measure yourself.
The practice of faith is personal as well as private, but we need one another for support and comfort. Real spiritual growth is produced through relationships and community; through loving one another and through your growing relationship with God Almighty! This kind of love is amazing, unselfish, truthful, kind, patient, loyal and more.
All of this in church! Not every one “gets it”! But everyone has the opportunity to!! Some think all they need to do is attend services every once in a while. That doesn’t cut it. You need to become involved! I’m sure you know that the more you put into something the more you get out of it.
WHY I BELIEVE IN THE CHURCH
By Dottie Parish
Jesus began building the church while he was here on earth and he expected us to continue this work. (Matt.16:18) Scripture also urges us “to not give up meeting together” (Hebrews ) and to “go into all the world” (Mark ) and teach and witness. Jesus also promised the Holy Spirit to guide us.
When I returned to church after years away I was flooded with memories of my childhood and young adult experiences in church. I remembered singing “Jesus Loves Me” as a toddler. I remembered memorizing Bible verses. I remembered the smells of a church, the sounds of a church, the feel of wooden pews, the hymns, the scripture, and all felt precious. I remembered the teachers and youth leaders who had taught me, encouraged me and loved me. I remembered retreats where we sang, talked and learned to pray. I remembered my baptism at age 12 and my teenage joy one Easter in realizing Jesus is alive and is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
Before my return to church there had been little music in my life. Now music fills my heart and soul every day and God’s presence brightens each day. As a church member I am no longer alone. I am part of the fellowship of Christ - a loving support group with a great mission. I have meaning and purpose in my life again. What greater cause than doing God’s will can there be?
At least seven things minister to us and change us when we belong to a vital church. Here’s a short list.
Fellowship. We gain fellowship, like a warm family, a group united in purpose who know us and care about us. We worship with others, their worship encourages ours, and their experiences inform ours. We see people grow spiritually.
Prayer. We pray together. “When “two or three agree as touching anything on earth.” Coming into God’s presence with others and interceding with and for others in need deepens our own faith and our care for others. Personal prayer is also available as others in church gladly pray for and with us.
Worship. We worship together lifting our voices in praise to God. This is not the same as singing along to a TV service or worshipping in nature (though these can also be valuable). Worshiping with my brothers and sisters in Christ and an open heart to God is life changing and fills us with his Holy Spirit.
Giving. Giving enriches us. We give our time, money and our energy to build the church, to reach out to spread the Word, and to heal and help those in need.
Confession. Confessing our sins silently in prayer frees us to open our hearts to God and others. When we confess our sin and repent before God he hears us.
Communion. Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, is a unique spiritual ritual in which we humble ourselves and give thanks for what Christ has done for us. And we remember that he gave his life for us.
Scripture. The church teaches us and our children the amazing and consistent truths throughout Scripture and that God is holy, loving and true.
Fellowship, Prayer, Worship, Giving, Confessing, Communion, Scripture. We gain spiritual wisdom from each of these things and it changes us. We go out into the world and live our faith, witness to others, and serve others. And we return to our church to keep the fire burning.
There are 100,000 or more Christian churches in the
. These churches are often the
heartbeat of a community. They are centers for charity, children’s teaching,
family get togethers, Bible studies and missions around the world. Churches employ
hundreds of thousands of people and spend billions of dollars on goods and
services. And they fund 1.6 million social programs and gather 7.6 million
volunteers. United States
As Betty said, real spiritual growth is produced through God focused relationships and community; through loving one another and through a deepening relationship with God Almighty! The church changes us and changes the world. Don’t miss out! Join the Church of Jesus Christ!