I am not a legalistic teacher or do I have religious tendencies. I believe we are saved by faith, and growing in Christ is a joy and a privilege. As I share my heart as a spiritual leader, understand that.
I am the leader of a Christian Church. My calling, job, spiritual responsibility given to me by the Lord, is to help people find Christ as their Savior and to help them grow and be more like Him and who God made them to be.
I know when people are not active in their local church, they don’t lose their salvation. I also believe one does not need to a church to be saved, but we need the church to grow, and to serve. Without the being part of the local body of Christ, we will not grow, and can become, ever so slowly, less committed to Christ, more cynical about the local church, and honesty, prey for the enemy who wants to blind our eyes (2 Corinthians 4.4).
After planting and leading Compelled Church for 22 years, I have seen hundreds of people come and go. Some come, and move, some come, and fall away from faith, some come, and just quit coming and participating because of a lot of reasons health, home life, gas money, and some just lazy and undisciplined. We are creatures of habit, so bad habits are easier to incorporate into your life as good habits.
I am going to address directly believers who no longer worship God in their local church, or participate in the life of the body of Christ, yet still love God.
We know the church, is the body of Christ. Ephesians tells us Jesus gave his life for the Church (4.25, 26). Jesus said He is the head of the church, the church is built on Christ, and the gates of Hell could not hold the church back (Matthew 16.17-20). Jesus gave gifts to the church so we could do our mission (Ephesians 4.11-13). The church is the hope of the world.
So why would many who love God, believe the Bible, surrender to Christ, not be part of the spiritual nucleus of God’s work on the earth? Some have been hurt, some are bitter of unmet expectations of the church or the pastor (s). Some know their life is in
sin, so they avoid the light of Jesus that would shine on their sin, and they would have to deal with it. Some are out of habit. Some people truly believe the local, organized church is evil and they all want your money (obviously they don’t know Scripture well). Some neglect their spiritual life in many ways, and not be part of their church is just one of the neglects (they walk in knowledge but not obedience). Some are truly homebound from health issues, and desperately want to be part but can’t. This open letter is not addressing people who are sick, in constant pain, and cannot get out of their house. Please know that. I want to encourage those who can, and make a conscious choice to be absent from the life of the local church.
May I bullet point my thoughts and encouragement in a sound-bite fashion?
- The local church is not perfect, as no human is perfect, and it is full of humans, and led by humans. I am sure you understand imperfection as you are also a human.
- The church is not as strong as it can be, because you are not part. Everyone adds something when they are part of the living body of Christ. Your absence does not add, it subtracts. We are a weaker church because you are not part. God has a role and part for you. One will never know, if they are never part.
- Many do not understand the role of the church or spiritual leadership so they quit coming as they feel they have been slighted and hurt, and their expectations of what the church should be were not met.
- Parents who skip being part of a church raise children who may skip God altogether. Stats say this is most likely. Our actions show our priorities. We can tell our kids how much we love God, but disobedience in this area makes our words fall to the ground like lead. They will conclude we are not as serious about our faith as we talk. Trust me. I was a youth pastor for 10 years, and pastored here for 22. People tell me their stories, and tell me how their parents faith impacted them, or their lack of faith and action, also impacted them.
- If you are not around, you can’t encourage anyone in the faith at your church or small group. You can’t serve. You can’t receive, you are not available. You can’t teach a child about Christ, pray for anyone, or give or receive love.
- You don’t have to be part of a local church to be a Christian, but you do if you want to be a growing one. Most believer’s who don’t make church part of their life, may also struggle in other areas that help them grow in Christ.
- OK..going to be totally honest…….Watching online is not enough. It cannot take the place of being part. Honestly, I’m pretty sick of hearing this, and it is highly discouraging to me. I feel like I have aided you to do exactly opposite of my life’s work and calling. We don’t broadcast our live services so people can stay home in their pajama’s and skip being part. I want to grow people in Christ, not make them lazy. The online is for those away, sick, or caregivers with sick children or family, as well as outreach. Our live services was never intended to help perfectly fine Christians stay home. I have considered stopping it for this very reason, but I know truly needy people, and those stuck at home depend on this. It hurts me to think that we are helping people pull away from the body and not grow close in it though. I guess it is an unintended consequence of pure motives. Please don’t use the live online services as a replacement for actually entering into relationship with God’s people at your local church. Please.
- You can’t grow, be challenged, and respond to God if you are not exposed to God, His Word, and His Spirit’s work. Our time together, in the main gatherings, or small groups is a time of growing and encouraging each other forward. As well, as growing in the Word and words of God. Without it, one never changes.
- It seems that hose that pull away from church really begin to focus on themselves. many become absorbed with their own goals, and interests, not the will of Jesus all that much.
- We can say God is the most important person in our life and our faith in Christ is priceless. But we are known by our fruit (action). Choices show our true values. To really value Christ is to value his body, the church. Talk is easier than actions.
- Let me qualify that I am not just referencing attending the weekend gatherings, but being part of the life of Christ’s body. Outreaches, serving, small groups, family involvement, prayer, relationship etc.
- When we honor the Lord, the Lord honors us. There is no greater joy than obeying the Lord, growing, serving, and seeing God change our life, marriage, and family, as we help others in Christ. There is not job, hobby, amount of money, overtime, relationship, or sin that will give you the joy, peace, and contentment we experience when we honor the Lord.
If you know you have pulled away from the local church and are not part, can I encourage you to repent (change your heart and mind) and begin to be actively part? If your faith has value to you, really make it a value that requires action.
Would you make your spiritual life and your family’s a top priority? Remember God never intended any of us to walk our faith journey alone.
Has the church or church leadership hurt you? It is time to forgive, to trust again, and grow in depth and grace, even through deep suffering of hurt.
Would you help your local church be stronger by your active presence and participation?
If you are in sin, and avoid the Lord, you know what you need to do. Stop sinning, repent and enjoy the grace, goodness, and forgiveness of Christ.
God has a great plan and will for your life. He has gifts He has given you for His glory. He wants to use the church, people of God, to help you be all God intended you to be for his glory.
Some Scripture Encouragement
Hebrews 10:24–27 (NLT)Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
Romans 14:6–7 (NLT)Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God.For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves.
1 Peter 5:1–2 (NLT) And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you:Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.
Hebrews 2:1 (NLT) So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it.
Proverbs 29:17–18 Discipline your children, and they will give you peace of mind and will make your heart glad. When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild. But whoever obeys the law is joyful.
Pr verbs 27:17 (NLT)As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.