Day 7: Doing Church- It can be hard (Acts 2:42-47)
Today’s Passage: Acts 2:42-47
I’m working on myself. I am working on doing church better. It can be hard.
Before I go any further. For some reading this post, church has hurt them. For some reading this post, maybe I, as a pastor, have hurt them. I apologize. I pray you not give up on God’s church.
My prayer these days, when I enter church for worship is really two-fold. Lord, help me to worship you, and help me to receive what you have for me.
Let me unpack this.
Lord help me to worship you. I mean, help me not adopt a critical attitude about any number of facets of the service; from people to the message to music to architecture. Help me not worry about what others think of me. Help me rid my mind of everything that tends to distract me from pouring my heart out to you.
Lord help me receive what you have for me. I mean, help me, a person who has preached sermons and written devotionals and studied your Word—help me listen. Not in a way where I begin to think how I might have delivered the sermon, or worse, criticize the sermon. Help me understand the person in the pulpit is your servant, a flawed human, yet your servant. So, help me listen for the truth you have for me—and for all the other words that are not for me, help me let them go.
Church is hard, and so far, all I have written about is attending a Sunday worship service!
The image of the early church in these few verses is often romanticized to the degree that we somehow expect our daily encounters with the church, and her people, to look exactly as these verses describe. That certainly is the goal.
Before we ponder the behavior, consider the ingredients of church. “They continued in the Apostles teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Every day they went to the Temple, together to worship, not divided by class or race. Every day taking care of one another’s needs. Every day, people were added to their ranks those who were saved.
It is a wonderful picture. The elements of this picture are: worship, teaching, fellowship, prayer, communion, service, and evangelism. Sounds perfect!
However, no church is perfect. The old joke is, “I found a perfect church, but then I joined it!” LOL.
Seriously though, if you are looking for a church, please pray to God.
Pray He keeps you from the ones that offer false teaching, or the ones that are toxic.
Pray He leads you to one that fits. One that has all seven elements—not that they are doing the seven elements perfectly, but they are on their radar, and they are trying. Consider a church that has no heart to serve, or to evangelize—that is a church turned inward. Consider a church that does not study God’s Word—that is a church broken free from The Anchor. Pray He leads you to the church He wants you in.
When He leads you to one then the work begins: I call it, the work of giving and not getting.
I need to give worship. I need to give authority to those who teaching. I need to give of my time to be with others from the church, outside of the church services and meetings. I need to give time to prayer with the church. I need to break bread with my brothers and sisters. I need to give my money, at the level of a tithe. I need to give Jesus to others, that they might be saved.
That is what they were doing in Acts 2:42-47.
With this approach of giving, I find I need to keep in mind three things. First, I need boundaries. There were seasons when I was way too involved in church; where the church became an idol. It was not healthy. Second, I need to be involved. There were also seasons when I wasn’t involved enough. When I attended, I was simply “going to get, not give”. Third, I need boundaries with some people. I need to love, to give, but at the same time have healthy boundaries.
It is not easy. I hope you are not surprised. Do you think Satan wants strong churches? He is very focused on tearing apart the church. It is where he spends much of his time. And in many settings, he has been successful.
Which is why I understand that the church has disappointed, and maybe even hurt you. If you are in this situation, pray to God that He will lead you to one.