There are several reasons that we as followers of Christ attend church. The Bible tells us that we should get together with fellow believers so we can encourage each other (Hebrews 10:24-25). Associating with others who follow Christ also helps keep us accountable in both our actions and words. Worshipping as a group of like minded people brings a dynamic that is different from when we worship alone. All of these reasons are good, scriptural and necessarily refreshing as we seek to walk the path Christ has set before us. However, I don’t think it’s enough to simply fellowship with other believers and enjoy a time of worship. I believe we need to be learning more about God during the time we spend together. Yet today there seems to be an emphasis on shallow teaching and a focus on those gathered rather than those on the outside who desperately need the gospel of Jesus.
God has gifted some to be pastors and teachers specifically for the purpose of helping others mature in their faith. (Ephesians 4:11-13). If we aren’t learning and growing in the context of our faith families then something is very wrong. Certainly we bear the responsibility for searching the Scriptures and drawing closer to God outside the walls of our church buildings, but those we have placed in leadership positions also have the duty of teaching us to mature in our faith.
The messages we hear from the pulpits should be those that reflect the commission of Christ. Yet how often do we hear sermons preached exhorting us to sell all of our possessions and give the proceeds to the poor? How often are we encouraged to leave the comforts of our life and go tell others in a different country from ours about Jesus? When was the last time you heard a message preached on Isaiah 58:6-7, Matthew 25:31-45, Ephesians 2:10 or James 1:26-27? We seem hear an awful lot about what we are supposed to avoid, but very little about the things in which we are supposed to engage. We speak of what we are against but cower instead of standing for that which we are for.
The Western church has flourished financially over the past 150 years. In that same time we seem to have forgotten the purpose of the true Church of Christ. We are to share the love of Jesus throughout the world and serve the needs of everyone we encounter. Instead we have become insulated to the world outside, ignoring the calling of Scripture and content to listen to sermons that have little meat but plenty of milk (Hebrews 5:12). We are happy to hear the things we want to hear, words that require little if any response from us (2 Timothy 4:3). Certainly there is a place and a time to teach new believers the basics of Scripture, but we must move on. We are called to action not to inactivity.
We must hold our leaders accountable to teaching and training the body the whole truth of the gospel so that we might grow and mature. There is no excuse for sitting under the same teaching for ten years and knowing little more than what you learned from the flannelgraphs of your youth. You cannot tread water and follow Jesus. His mission moves ever forward; following Him requires that we do the same. If you aren’t learning what it truly means to be a follower of Jesus in your own faith community, it may be time to move on. Never stop seeking and never stop growing. Find a body of believers that will stretch you and teach you what it truly means to be a follower of Christ.
Question: Is your faith family supplying milk or meat for your growth? You can share your comments with others below.