Hebrews 10:25 says to “not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” We discussed last issue the importance of fellowship and what it means to belong to a community of believers in a local setting and that attempting to grow without being vitally joined to a local church body will not work. That we need both a “vertical” relationship with the Lord and a “horizontal” relationship with our church brothers and sisters in order for us to grow in our relationship with God. One without the other simply will not work for your personal growth. We need each other according to Scripture and Ephesians 4:16 makes it clear when it says “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”
As each one of us does our part, using our God given gifts, talents, and abilities to edify and encourage one another, it causes the body to grow. And the chief aim is to become Christlike in our character and to mature both individually and corporately as a church body (see last months article on the Importance of Fellowship, which will explain this in more detail). But one of the challenges for many when looking for a church body to join is where do you go? With so many churches, all seemingly to have their own autonomy, where does one go when looking to find a place of worship?
There is, as I have heard from many, a certain criterion that some have on whether they will join a church or not. Certainly, you definitely want to join a church that is preaching and teaching out of the Word of God who is reaching out to their community and their focus is surrounded around Jesus Christ. That’s a given. But there are other factors that some have, such as the various kind of ministries that a church may have, or what kind of programs that they offer. One that I hear often, especially from young parents who are searching for a church home is what kind of youth programs and childcare that a church may have. And granted, these things are important and these types of questions should be asked and processed by those who are searching. However, without denying the importance of these things, I would dare issue a slight challenge based on Scripture to many who are still searching for a place of worship. In describing some of how the church body operates, which is the body of Christ, Paul uses the human body to draw a metaphor on how the church operates:
Romans 12:4 – NLT – Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, 5 so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
1 Corinthians 12:12-18 – NLT – 12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So, it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit. 14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.
Notice at verse 18 of 1 Corinthians where it says that God has put each part just where He wants it. When searching for a church body to join, the first thing you must realize is that God is the One who will place you where He wants you to be, not where you want to be…. (ouch!) This is an area that we must submit to the Lord and pray, asking for His leading. Sadly, many do not do this. They just randomly join a church without carefully praying and processing it with the Lord and the result of that is they never really feel quite “connected”. There may be absolutely nothing wrong with that church. It’s just that God may not have planted them there. They planted themselves and when you plant yourself, you literally will feel like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole even though everything seems “right”. The pastor and the people are genuine, the Word preached is “spot on”, they have amazing youth programs, prayer groups, ministry opportunities and most importantly, Jesus Christ is being lifted up in service and glorified. And yet, you still don’t seem to quite “fit”. At that point, you need to evaluate and pray and see if the Lord has placed you there or if you placed yourself. The Bible says this:
Psalms 92:13 – NKJV – Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.
When you are planted by the Lord, you will begin to flourish, or grow in your walk with Him. Why? Because, first, we must remember that God always has your best interests in mind. When God places you in a local church body of His choice, He does this so that you are strategically placed where you will be the most effective for the building up of His Kingdom, no matter what it is He calls you to do. You will also know by an inner sense of peace, a divine “knowing” inside that you have found, not just another church, but a “family” that you feel a connection with. A sense of “I’m home” will come over you once you come through those doors and start fellowshipping with the people.
So, my encouragement to those who are still searching for a place of worship is to look to the Lord to place you where He wants you. You will benefit best this way and God will also, as He will now be able to align you in that local church for the best fit in you being blessed and becoming a blessing to many others for the building up of the body of Christ