Are you in church or at church?

This is a question that struck me a couple of months ago. I was blogging about community (check that post here) and, in the middle of a writing rant, wrote that question and paused. I ended up cutting it from the original blog, because it didn’t fit with the point I was making, but the question stuck with me. Are you in church or at church…

What’s the difference?

The question made me think about how I viewed community in Cambridge, and how I viewed my community in Vegas. If you had asked me when I lived in Vegas if I was in church, I would have said yes. I went to church every week, I did bible studies, I volunteered at a youth group, and I would take the middle school girls out to ice cream.

But now that I live in Cambridge, in a completely different state with a completely different church and completely different circumstances, my mind hesitates.

Yes, back in Vegas, I did go to church every week… I walked in, sat down, listened to the sermon, and walked out. Yes, I went to bible studies. I put a pleasant smile on my face, answered the pre-written questions that went along with whatever book we were doing, and went home. Yes, I volunteered at youth group. I went, hosted a game or two, led a quick fifteen-minute discussion time to try and ‘connect’, and left.  

Is that what God intended when he created The Church?

Life looks different for me now. Now, I walk into church and am usually swarmed with a bunch of wonderful kids. Then, I sit with my friends, and we talk about our week. We sit with each other and oftentimes pray with each other. We worship together, dancing and crying and kneeling. Then we go out to lunch and make plans to connect through the next week.

Here’s where I’ll take some responsibility: I am fully to blame for my lack of participation back in Vegas. I was scared of being vulnerable. Of people really seeing me.

Life is different now and that leaves me with another question.

How can I know if I’m living in church now or just skimming above the surface? How do I know that this is the Church as God intended and I’m not missing something important still?

So, here are some questions I asked myself, and maybe you could too. Check-in, dig deep, and be honest.

Do you see the people you go to church with outside of Sunday morning?

Community takes time and it takes commitment.

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:24-25

God has placed us around each other for a purpose. There are 168 hours in a week. If you take out hours for sleep, you’re left with around 110. Typically, you will spend anywhere from 1-3 hours at church. How affective can someone be in your life if you only see them for 3 hours a week? Would you let someone who you only see and only sees you for, at most, 3 hours a week, speak into your life? Convict you? Does their encouragement land or fall flat?

Are there people in your life who convict, encourage, and help you?

In verse twenty four it says we should consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. In James 5:16, we’re called to confess to one another and pray for one another, that we may be healed.

So often in God’s word, we find exactly how we’re supposed to treat each other, and exactly how we’re supposed to encourage each other. Think about it like this. We do not fight a battle with real swords and daggers and arrows, we fight against the enemy, who sows lies. So, of course, the defense God has set up is each other. We, who can fight on the same battlefield of the enemy and build up one another and assure one another of who they are.

Are you impacting others?

We are often called to love one another, and sometimes I think when we discuss community, we think of others in a very selfish way. How are they encouraging me? How are they helping me? I think we forget that we have just as much of a part to play as the people around us.

Are you in church? Or just at church?

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