As I sat in a church membership meeting a couple of nights ago, the thought crossed my mind that I love my church. It seemed to come out of nowhere. I mean, the discussion was about budgets and finances. Even as someone who deals with those things for a living, the truth is I don't particularly enjoy those parts of the meetings. But, it was at that moment that I found myself thinking about how I love my church.
Just to clarify before I go further: What I'm talking about when I talk about my church is the local body of believers that I'm a part of. And about both the people who make up this group and the "institution" (for lack of a better term) that it is.
In the days, since this meeting, I've thought a lot about why I love my church. It's been a while since I've thought about it, because the truth is I've had moments in the last few years where I wasn't sure I loved my church. Without going into details, I think it's sufficient to say that when people are such a huge part of something you love, the potential for things becoming challenging exists. And despite struggles at times, I can honestly say now that I love my church.
Over the last few years, I've heard more and more people say that they love and follow God, but they don't want anything to do with the church. I've always struggled a bit with how to respond when someone says that to me. Scripture makes it pretty clear that this life as followers of Christ is not meant to be lived alone. We need to go through life with other people.
Church is a place where we gather together with other believers from all walks of life to learn and grow. And it's not gathering just with people whose lives look the same as ours. But, also with people whose lives look different from ours. And it is important.
This has made me wonder if we need to learn to love the church. Maybe thoughts like the one I had a couple of days ago shouldn't seems o strange. Maybe they should be normal.
From what I can see in Scripture, the writers of the New Testament saw the gathering of believers as important. This was the early church. And the early church had structure and things in place to help ministry happen too. It's inevitable that when you gather people together to do ministry some sort of structure will develop - sometimes formally and sometimes informally, but it will happen. And that's not a bad thing.
Should I love my church?
I believe the answer to this question is yes. And that should be the answer for all of us who claim to be followers of Christ. As followers of Christ who are not made to walk this life alone, we should have a church that we love. What the church looks like may be different for different people, but we need to have a church that we love.
Do you love your church?