Why the Church is Important

I grew up in the church and have served in the local church since my junior year in college, so it may seem overly obvious that I think the church is important.  There is an interesting “rub” when you are a part of the church as a member and also a part of the church as “paid staff.”  While you are a member, it’s also your job to be there, but that’s perhaps another discussion. Yesterday’s worship experience reminded my why the church is important.

The very quick back story is that a couple of weeks ago my wife and I took vacation and had a Sunday off. We enjoyed attending another church in our area and simply being participants in the service rather than leading.  As with everyone else I’m sure, the first week back from vacation is the “re-entry period.”  Catching up on emails and phone calls, getting back into groove of the work schedule and moving out of vacation mode.  So, this Sunday was my first Sunday back.  It was a great reminder why the church is important.

As we sang together, I was struck by the fact that I was worshiping with people I know – my church family and friends.  I know some of the challenges we have faced and how God has been faithful to us.  Even though we are broken people and dinged up a little (or a lot) by our life experiences, we stand together as His church and worship.  It’s not because of our goodness, but His grace.  Similar to what I wrote a couple of months back, I was struck again by the fact the God accepts us and wants us to worship Him.

During the message, the scripture was not just a challenge to individual followers, but to the church as a whole. While each of us is responsible for our personal development and growth, there is also the reality that we are in this together and God calls the church as a body to be just that – His body.  One person can’t be the church on his/her own.  We are in it together.

There are some who criticize the church and we do have our flaws, but yesterday was a good reminder to me that the church really is important.  I need the time together with my church family to worship, study and be reminded of what we are called to do and be.

BELIEVE Recap

We took a group of 31 from our church to BELIEVE Junior High Conference this past weekend.  If you are unfamiliar with this program, you must check it out at the Christ In Youth website.  They do a great job creating experiences for junior high students. The adults even get something out of the weekend.

This year was no exception and was, in my opinion, one of the best overall weekends I have attended.  The speaking was excellent, the message was clear, the music was rocking and the it all pointed back to the theme.  It was called “The Word Tour” and it challenged students to appreciate, read and live God’s Word.

As I was summarizing the weekend in my mind, I came away with these three take-a-ways:

  1. Love God, Love People – on Friday night, we were reminded that the two most important things we can do is love God and love others.  The challenge was pretty simple – which of those do we as individuals need to address?  Is it our love for God or love for people?
  2. Hide God’s Word in your heart – we hide God’s Word not that no one can see it, but so that no one can take it from us.  We need to spend time in His Word and hide it in our hearts so it is always with us.
  3. Inhale, Exhale – we can’t keep God’s Word to ourselves; we need to speak it and share it.  We inhale when we study together, but then we need to exhale it by sharing it with others.  Thought that was a great analogy.

It was a great weekend and I am grateful for the opportunity to share it together with our students and adults. Those types of experiences are great in the context of community as we come home, share memories and help each other do something with what we heard.

Circles are Better Than Rows

For the past couple of weeks, we have been promoting small groups to our students.  Last Sunday we had a meeting with parents and explained our approach to small groups.  Yesterday, I heard the perfect message on small groups.  Andy Stanly at North Point Community Church is one of my favorite speakers.  A recent podcast of his dealt with importance of being involved in a small group.

I loved the analogy he used – circles are better than rows.  We can sit in rows (or pews) Sunday after Sunday and never really be known.  If we commit to be in a community of small group, we will be known.  When we are hurting, we have someone to share it with.  When we are missing, someone notices.  And when the rough spots of life come, we have people there to help pick us up.

We are still encouraging our students to in a small group and I am grateful to those adults who have committed to lead one.  So, are you in a circle?  It is much better than sitting in a row!