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Many people think of 'church' as a building, and so the phrase 'go to church'. But originally, it was the name for an assembly of believers in Jesus who gathered together frequently to listen to the apostles' teaching and fellowship (Ac.2:42). So, why do people 'go to church' now?
To fulfil a sense of duty? Listen to the choir? Meet friends? Find someone to marry? Develop business contacts? Try out new dresses? Hoping to get rid of problems? Receive God's blessings?
The (universal) church consists of all who have been born again by faith in Jesus as their Saviour, and this church meets locally in small groups. However, not everyone who comes to a meeting of the church is necessarily born again, but some may be there because of motives such as the ones given above. God uses the church to reach out to them and hopefully add them to the real church. All those who are born again are, spiritually speaking, only babies in their relationship with God and the knowledge of God and His ways. One way in which He helps them to grow is through the church.
The pattern of the church given in the New Testament is as a corporate body (the body of Christ) where everyone has something to contribute to one another in terms of building up towards spiritual maturity (1Co.12:7;Ep.4:16). Even though what we usually see presently is one man taking the lead, we need to keep in mind that even such a situation need not prevent others from making their contributions – serving with their spiritual gifts in different public or private capacities.
When we think of growing up spiritually, we can identify two broad areas – our personal growth where we get increasingly freed from the power of sin and get transformed into the character of Jesus, and our relationships with others. It is God's plan that the church working through its members should provide teaching, guidance, comfort and encouragement in these directions. Many times the failure is when we keep waiting for others to change and start taking care of us, instead of also trying to see what we ought to do to bless the others.
Instead of merely listening to the choir if we join with them in worshipping and praising God meaningfully from our heart, what a difference it can make to our personal life and relationship with God! God is waiting for such people to enjoy His relationship with them (Jn.4:23)! When we join in our heart with our own personal prayers and petitions to God and listen to the word that is shared, that becomes an opportunity to meet with God and receive His answers. In turn, this begins to show us how to improve our relationship with others. Then, when we work together with the others in the ministries of the church, that gives us opportunities to see where we lack or go wrong and also to give to and receive help from one another.
There will be problems and challenges too! But that's how we grow, develop and mature; not by backing off or keeping away!