I recently read a post on another blog about the idea of being attached to a church rather than just attending one. I've been thinking about it since.
I've always been frustrated with people who claim to be believers, but also say they have no use for the church. How can you say you belong to the family of God and then, in the same breath, say you have no use for your brothers and sisters in that family? It doesn't make sense to me.
Scripture makes it pretty clear that we were created to need other people. Right from creation God knew it wasn't good for Adam to be alone and changed that by creating Eve. As you read through Scripture it become pretty clear that doing life together was the norm - both for Israel in the Old Testament and for the early church in the New Testament.
The writer of Hebrews puts it this way,
"And let us consider how we may spur one another towards love and good deeds, not by giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another."
(Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV 2011, emphasis mine)
I don't think it could be any clearer than this.
As Christians we need to be part of a larger group of Christians. A church (gathering of with other believers) where we worship together, learn together, encourage one another, challenge on another. We weren't made to be lone ranger Christians.
And that's where the difference between attending a church and attaching yourself to a church comes in. Just attending a church does little to foster what Scripture speaks about. To actually "spur one another on towards love and good deeds" and encourage one another we have to get involved. There's no other way for it to happen.
Now, by this point I've probably upset a few of you. You might be wishing you could tell me your own story of hurt from the church and how that's why you're not attached to a church right now. You might be thinking that I don't understand. I don't know your story. I don't know what happened to you. You're right about that.
But, I do know what it's like to be hurt by a church - or, more accurately, by the broken people who make up a church. My story of it may be different in details from yours, but I've been there. It would have been much easier to just walk away when it happened. But looking back, I'm glad I didn't. I'm glad I worked through it instead.
Or maybe by this point, I've made you mad. For whatever your reasons are, you see things differently when it comes to the church. I hope you'll at least consider what I'm saying.
There is a reason why I haven't given specific details about what a church to be attached to looks like. I can't tell you exactly what your church should be. But I will say that you need one - big or small, structured or un-structured. If you're not regularly meeting with other believers for more than just social activities, something vital is missing in your walk with God.
Whatever the case, you can't slip in late and sit in the back row before slipping out as soon as it's over without talking to anyone and expect to find the community you need - the community that you were made to need. You can't turn the alarm off and go back to sleep every weekend instead of going to church and expect to find the community you need - the community you were made to need.
You have to be there. And you have to get involved. You have to invest yourself. You have to attach yourself to a group of believers by doing more than just showing up.
The rewards for doing so are worth it. Even if it hurts sometimes. Even if its messy or hard sometimes.
We were made for it.
And Scripture tells us and models for us that we need it.
Stop making excuses for why you're not.
If you claim to be a Christian, then you need to be attached to a community of believers for the long haul - through the good times and the bad.