The question is often asked and the simple answer is that you shouldn’t. The problem lies in our definition of “church.” Almost everyone in America has one of three (3) views of what church is. Many people think of church as a building or facility. They therefore use the phrase “go to church” in the context of going to a place. Many others think of church as something that we do.
When they use the phrase “going to church” they are speaking of the songs and sermons that will happen inside the building. They can then tell you if church was “good” or “bad” on Sunday, because it is based on what happened inside the building. The third group of people think of church as an organization. Something like the Future Farmers of America, or the Rotary Club. When people with this mind set talk of “going to church” they are talking about going to the club meeting.
According to the Bible, none of the above is correct. Actually, when the Bible uses the word “church,” it is talking about people. Jesus came to help people and set them free. He did not come to build buildings, schedule events, or form a club. His only concern was to bring people freedom from sin and death. His “church” is those people who have found that freedom. When a person becomes a Christian, they lose their earthly citizenship and become citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven (Philippians 3:20; Hebrews 11:13-16). The “church” is the people of God living here among the earthlings. We therefore do not “go” to church - we belong to church. We belong to the family of God.
In earthly families, not all the family members live in the same house. My brother’s children live in his house. My children live in mine. My cousin’s husband and children live in theirs. We are all part of the same family, but our normal daily lives center on our local house. So is the local church. Each believer in Jesus needs to find a local family (what we call church) to belong to. Each believer needs people around them that will walk with them on this pilgrimage through the earth. We do not “go to family,” nor should we go to church.” When Peter and John were released from prison (Acts 4), they ran to “their own companions.” They ran home to the family - their church.
If you are looking for a church family to belong to, look for people. Don’t look for buildings, programs, music, or a cool secret handshake. Look for a group of people with whom you can journey. People who can become your church family here on the earth. People who will stick with you through thick and thin. People with whom you will stick through thick and thin.
We realize that this is much more difficult than finding a church that plays the kind of music you like, or a church that has the great programs you think you would enjoy. Of course, you will never find “it” if you don’t know what to look for. “Good” churches come in all kinds of sizes and shapes, because good people come in all sizes and shapes. We pray that Jesus will help you find the church family you belong with.
There was once a Christian man who did not belong to a church. One of his co-workers asked him why he did not belong to a church. The man said that he was looking for the “perfect church.” The co-worker told him he would never find a perfect church, but the man told the co-worker that this wasn’t true, and that he had indeed found a perfect church. The obvious question was then asked as to why he had not joined that church. The man replied that unfortunately that church only allowed perfect people to join.
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