why are we here?

A friend recently told me that attendance is declining at their church. When I asked why, there were several reasons given. But the first was the worship music. Often people cite environmental rather than spiritual reasons for leaving a church or attending less regularly. “The music doesn’t speak to me.” “The preaching doesn’t speak to me.” “The pastor is oblivious to my personal spiritual needs.” And on and on. In his book “The Christian Atheist,” Pastor Craig Groeschel refers to this as being “consumer-minded” when it comes to our church experience:

“‘I’m looking for a church to meet my needs. I need a good church that will help me.’ The church is actually God’s chosen vehicle to meet—through other human beings—people’s true needs (including our own). Sign at church: COME TO CHURCH. WHAT’S MISSING? YOU! Simply put, we are the church.”

Like many believers, there likely was a time in your spiritual life when you were seeking a new church. It’s also likely that your priorities aligned with what Groeschel describes above. You were a consumer. You were shopping for a church to meet your needs. Imagine selecting a church after saying: “this church really needs me!” Groeschel says our presence at church is about filling a need the church has as much, if not more than fulfilling our own needs. That can mean actually serving someone, helping them meet some kind of need. Perhaps someone at church is merely “God curious.” You may be called to introduce them to God. Perhaps they are a very new believer and need you to disciple them as they grow spiritually. This can seem daunting to many. Here are two thoughts to comfort you:

1.       Nobody is qualified to do this.

2.       Anybody can do this.

I heard you go “huh?” all the way from here. Simply put, there is no special training required to help others grow in Christ. Let’s look at a passage from the book of Acts. Peter and John are called before the Sanhedrin after healing a paralytic at the gate called Beautiful:

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.” Acts 4:8-10 (NIV)

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. Acts 4:13-14 (NIV)

There are two things to take note of there. The Greek word for ordinary Luke uses here is:

idiōtēs: ordinary, untrained person, one who does not understand, an inquirer – inquirer (2), inquirers (1), ordinary (1), untrained (1)

Does anything jump out at you about that word, “idiotes?” These guys weren’t learned rabbis. They are the type of people that inspired our word, idiot. Another hat tip to Craig Groeschel for pointing that out. You can do this, you can encourage, serve and disciple others, just as John and Peter did. Why? Because of the back half of verse 13: “…and they took note these men had been with Jesus.” Nobody is qualified to do this under their own power, but everyone who is with Jesus can do this. I’m not talking about healing a paralytic. I’m talking about having the boldness to share Jesus with others and declare that He is Lord of your life. What we often miss though is that this starts in Church.

The church needs us. That’s why we should be in church. And yes, we can love, help, serve, and evangelize to others in the church body. It’s what we’re called to do, even “ordinary” people like us. No one is qualified. But with the help of Jesus, everyone can do this.

So, I prayerfully ask you to consider what your motivation is for being in church. President John F. Kennedy famously said in his 1961 inauguration speech: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Jesus shared the sentiment first, referring to the church. It still holds true today. The next time you’re in church ask yourself not “why am I here?” Ask instead, “Jesus, who am I here for?”

— Pastor Jerry Bader

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