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::d101:: ‘Time In The Church’

July 22, 2009


Have you ever come across an old photo of a small country church and felt something warm and appealing well up inside you?  There’s just something about worn out wooden pews, faided wood floors, and even the aging white paint on the outside of the building that just presents such character to me.  However, the church is not a building.  It is believers gathering together to build their relationships with God and with other people.  But is church really that important for a Christian?  Is it optional or necessary? A good question worthy of a good answer.

When I read in the scriptures about the begining of what we would call “the church” in Acts 2, I get excited and desire to participate in such a gathering.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common.  Acts 2:42-44 NIV

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve encountered the question “does a christian have to go to church in order to go to heaven” either in my own mind or from someone else.  From my experience, the more accurate question to get to the heart of the matter is “how important is it for a Christian to go to church?”  The answer – critically important.

Why Is Church Attendance Important?

I believe that church attendance is as important to a believer as training is to a professional athlete.  It is an absolute neccisty for survival.  Today we’re going to take a look at 4 areas in the life of a believer that a good, solid, Christ centered church will provide nurturing for growth.

Sound Teaching Of The Bible

First and foremost a church focuses on teaching the Truth from the word of God, the Bible, to each and every believer.  It is fundamental and essential.  Notice that in the early church the believers “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching”.  Teaching becomes understanding and understanding becomes application and application increases growth both in the individual believer and the church as a whole.  Several years ago I started carrying 3 things to church that revolutionized my walk with the Lord: a study bible that I could understand (NIV), a steno pad notebook, and a pen.  I even know of one woman who went as far as to bring a folding side table with her so she’d have more room to spread her materials out in the pew while she took notes on the message.  Sound teaching of the Bible serves as the food we need for spiritual health and growth.

Sharing The Things Of God

One of the most comforting things that God has provided through the church is the ability to share in the lives of other believers.  A church encourages believers to share both the victories and the struggles of their walk with the Lord.  The promises of God’s word are shown in the lives of the congregation and God’s hand at work is acknowledged.  The early church spent a great deal of time devoting themselves to the “fellowship” as they walked daily in this world but not of it.  Through sharing the things of God together, true fellowship with God the father, God the son, and God the Holy Spirit is achieved because the hearts of the believers are focused on the Person of Christ as the Holy Spirit teaches them the things of Christ and God is pleased with them.  Sharing the things of God serves as encouragement and comfort necessary to push forward in walking with the Lord.

Breaking Bread

With Christ as the center of a church, the believers are committed to proclaiming His death, burial, and resurrection – the very core of the faith.  Many churches call this either the Lord’s supper or communion.  The early church devoted themselves to this practice and referred to it as “breaking bread”.  Jesus gave instructions on breaking bread – representing his body which was broken for our sins on the cross, and on drinking from the cup – representing his blood and the new covenant that allows us full access to the Father through the Son.  He said “do this in remembrance of me”.    Breaking bread serves to keep our hearts and minds focused on Christ and our lives proclaiming his death, burial, and resurrection.


A church provides a prayer powerhouse for believers.  Certainly personal prayer time is important, and we will cover that as another spiritual habit coming up in this series, but participating in prayer with other believers is extremely powerful.  I’ve heard prayer explained as “the way God pulls us onto the same page with him” and I believe that is a pretty accurate description. That being said, praying with other believers is also the way God pulls them onto the same page with each other.  It has often been said that a family who prays together stays together and I believe the same goes for a church who prays together.  The possibility of the early church disbanding and breaking apart was certainly there due to the degree of persecution the believers faced, but yet they remained steadfast together as they devoted themselves to “prayer”. Prayer serves to keep us united with other believers as Christ has designed us to participate in life as one body with many parts.

The Bottom Line

The big “C” Church was ordained by Jesus himself as a means of believers coming together to worship God, grow in Christ, and proclaim the Gospel to the world.  The little “c” church is simply an available means to participate in the larger.  Developing the habit of regularly spending Time in the Church will provide the necessary nourishment, encouragement, focus, and unity each of us will need to have healthy spiritual lives as believers.

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