I Don’t Need Church…

“I don’t need church!”

I hear some version of that on a regular basis when I invite people to join me on Sunday mornings.

That thought is probably rooted in a painful past experience, a disappointing moment, or a false reality that somehow not belonging to church but expressing faith is all it takes to get into Heaven. It may also simply be rooted in laziness and misaligned priorities of not wanting one more thing on the to-do list.

As I pondered that thought while preparing for our Connect Group discussion later this morning I realized my response to that statement has always been wrong.

I usually say, “Well, if you ever find yourself needing church, you’re always more than welcome to join me.”

The reality is, you may not think you need church, but the church needs you.

In Chapter 8 of Thom Rainer’s book  I Will, he discusses the topic “I Will Avoid the Traps of Churchianity”.

Churchianity can be summed up in one word: “Selfishness”.

Rainer defines “churchianity” as “practicing our church and religious beliefs according to human standards rather than biblical guidelines.”

In other words, we practice Churchianity instead of Christianity whenever we make religion about us instead of about God.

We are selfish when we change the guidelines God has given us to make the Bible “fit” cultural norms.

We are selfish when we slap God in the face by doubting His plan for our lives and questioning Him with, “Why me?” instead of praising Him through the storm.

🥁 … And we are selfish when we focus our reasons for going or not going to church on our personal biases and needs instead of the needs of others within the church.

This chapter in Rainer’s book focuses on 1 Corinthians 12, which highlights three major things:

  • First, we must consider the source of where things in our lives come from.
  • Second, we all have been given unique spiritual gifts from God.
  • Third, we need to be in church to utilize our spiritual gifts collectively as a whole.

1. Consider the Source
If God is not the source of where you’re getting your information and your inspiration, you’re setting yourself up for failure.

**** 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 ****
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Satan does a really great job of deceiving us with counterfeit versions of who Christ is and what that means for our lives. It is our job to discern between good and evil and to recognize when things that “seem right” are actually counterculture to the Christian life.

Satan has done a great job leading many of us to believe we don’t need to be in church instead of recognizing the value we add to others by being there.

2. We All Have Unique Spiritual Gifts
We all have at least one unique gift from God designed to help other Christians within the church. We all have a purpose, and our unique gift is designed to help us fulfill that purpose for the good of all. It’s not for us to selfishly hide and never use.

**** 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 ****
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

But often we become “Spectator Christians”. We sit on the sidelines, rarely study our Bible, doubt Christ, live in fear, and don’t utilize our gifts. Like a spectator at a basketball game, we coach the team from afar, but we never show up for practice or develop our own skills. Worse yet, we think our skills as a “fan turned coach” are the skills we were gifted, and we don’t utilize our actual gifts to support the team.

Sometimes as Christians we get a sense of entitlement and forget that church isn’t about us, it is about serving others collectively. When that happens, it is easy to focus on the negative.

“I don’t go to church because … “

I’ve never heard that sentence end with a positive thought. And God didn’t call us to have negative thoughts.

**** Philippians 4:8 ****
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

The fact that so many of our internal thoughts are filtered through a negative committee in our brain leads us to simply give up when times get tough. We hear sermons but quit applying them to our lives. We read scripture but quit looking for it’s true meaning in our lives. We see the fact that the miracle we were hoping for that didn’t happen caused us pain instead of realizing the miracle that didn’t happen grew us so we would be ready for the bigger miracle coming in the future.

Imagine how much better our lives would be if we formed a positive committee instead and focused on the things we are instructed to focus on in Philippians 4:8.

3. We Need to be in Church
Imagine how much better the lives of those around us would be if we were all in church lifting one another up, sharing our unique gifts, and recognizing the body of Christ works best when all of its pieces are in one place.

**** 1 Corinthians 12:27-38 ****
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.

Rainer ends the chapter talking about cliques in the church. Sometimes people decide not to go to church because they didn’t fit into a clique instead of finding the place where they actually click within the church.

Everywhere you go in life you will find people you naturally get along with, people who drive you crazy, people who share your philosophies, and people who annoy you. God designed us to be different because those differences are needed to make things work collectively. He also called us to love everyone.

So the next time you find yourself debating if you should go back to church, debating if you should crawl out of bed on a cold and rainy morning or just watch the service online, or debating if you should quit going to church because you just don’t feel like you fit in … pause and remember this … “You may not feel like you need church today, but you were given a special gift from God that the church needs from you. Without you, the church isn’t complete.”