Summer is fun, but sometimes it’s hard on churches. Members are deservedly here-and-there… vacationing, working, and spending every moment possible with their families before the “grind” resumes in full-force. Early June to late August in churches is usually characterized by spotty attendance, low giving, and less organized activity across the board. It is a great couple of months for family time. But a difficult couple of months for church-family time. That being said, at the end of May each year, most church members are ready to embrace a less structured and less demanding church environment while they invest every free moment they can find in their personal families. But for this church minister, late August always breeds a similar level of anticipation for regularity in church functions. Summer break is good. But toward the end of it, I really start missing my church family.
This past Monday, school started again. This year, I put my youngest son in Kindergarten. I don’t care how old you actually are… that makes you feel a good 5-10 years older. With school starting back, church activities reverted to their normal schedule again last night. Women’s Bible study, Men’s Bible study, Children and Youth activities, and Music Ministry rehearsals… they all resumed their normal school-year schedule yesterday, and as far as I’m concerned, it could not have come soon enough. Last night was like a Red Bull to our church’s adrenaline levels. I’m so glad to be back into regular fellowship with my church family, and to have some level of normality in our schedule again.
That being said, I would like to offer you:
1. Ephesians 3:10-11. The local church is God’s instituted design both to display His wisdom in the heavenly realm, and to accomplish His purposes on Earth. When we function as a part of a church family, we are (1) showing God wise and (2) following His plan for world gospel-saturation. The world needs to know that Jesus saves. And the local church is God’s agent for that mission.
2. Galatians 6:1-10. Mutual accountability and encouragement. (1) You need someone to hold you spiritually accountable. I do too. Together, we function as symbiotic organisms, coming together as one for mutual benefit. Lone-Ranger Christians, flying solo in their faith, are at an incredible disadvantage here. Yes, the Holy Spirit testifies within us when we sin against God. But if we are quenching the Holy Spirit, then His proddings will not always be felt. Sometimes, a verbal word of accountability is necessary. I alone am responsible for my sin, but it is your job to help restore me (through admonishment and encouragement) when I fall. (2) You need someone to lift you up. Life is hard. We should do it together, as a team. The burdens you have – death of a loved one, familial difficulties, financial strain, health problems – are too much for you to carry alone. Let your brothers and sisters help you bear that load.
3. Hebrews 10:23-25. Spiritual depression brought on by the recognition of spiritual oppression can be softened through spiritual fellowship. Look around. The world is decaying. Degrading. Dying. It is getting more and more difficult to live out the Christian faith. More and more, believers around the globe are being spiritually oppressed. If you’re trying to stand alone, you’ll be more apt to spiritual depression. It manifests itself in thoughts like, “What’s the use in evangelizing? – Jesus is coming back soon anyway.” Or, “There’s just no hope for these godless individuals.” Or even more seriously, “Why should I worry so much about living a holy lifestyle if I’m covered by the blood of Jesus anyway?” Spiritual depression. But if you’re part of an active body of believers, encouragement finds you. Just as the Holy Spirit speaks to you about you, He also speaks to your brothers and sisters about you. I often find the encouragement I need from a church member who knows absolutely nothing of the situation I’m facing or the thoughts I’m entertaining. God’s SSRI prescribed for spiritual depression is encouragement from other believers in the church body.
4. Psalm 68:24-26, 35. There is just something about corporate worship. When believers gather together to praise and worship God, His power and strength is imparted to them. God is “awe-inspiring” in His sanctuaries. In the fellowship of His children and in the corporate worship of His majesty, God “gives power and strength” to His people. A pep rally, of sorts. It reminds us of our position in Christ. It reminds us that because of our adopted sonship or daughtership, we have the exclusive privilege of capitalizing on the victory that belongs to us as children of the King. Sunday mornings are good. For a top-off, come on Sunday nights! And for a mid-week fill-up, come on Wednesday evenings.
5. 1 Corinthians 12:12-31. Being active in the local church is vital to its success; not only do you need the church, the church needs you. Upon receiving Christ as Savior, the Holy Spirit imparted to you spiritual gift(s). When all the members of the church body are using their spiritual giftedness for the edification of the church and the advancement of the gospel message, the local church is a well-maintained, fitly healthy organism. Each part of its body is vitally important to its mission. If one part of the body becomes dead weight, the rest of the body feels it. If one part of the body thinks of itself more highly than it aught, the rest of the body feels that too. Don’t just go to church. Be the church.
I pray you’ll capitalize on the newness of this season by taking advantage of the opportunity to join in regular fellowship with a local church body, and by allowing its schedule to become a normal part of your family’s routine. Don’t fly solo. Don’t be a Lone-Ranger. Plug in.
Grace and Peace,