Analysis: ISAAC MACHISA
THIS is a very controversial question to ask anyone. It will surely get you divergent views and answers.
The reason is simple, church means many things to people. The common belief is that church is a building.
So it can be a place where people meet to worship, for entertainment, business, healing or simply to mingle.
One of my favourite authors and preachers, Myles Munroe, once said if you do not know the purpose of a thing, you will abuse it.
Critical to this is understanding the word ‘church’.
In the Bible, church comes from a Greek word ‘ecclesia’, which means the called out ones or assembly. Whenever church is mentioned, it refers to people.
Hence, the early church devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, among other reasons.
1. Do not go for what you can get – They say friendship is a two way thing. It takes two people who share a common interest to build a long lasting friendship. Even love must be reciprocated. It is very frustrating and painful to invest your time, attention or money in a friendship where the other person is only interested in what you can give.
Yet when it comes to God, many people only want to be on the receiving end. The reasons for going to church is to find a spouse, healing or money. You are after God’s provision or healing and not the provider or healer. Jesus says to the crowd in the book of John, “You are seeking me because you ate the loaves of bread.” He knew the crowd was only interested in the provision and not his message.
His message is to “seek first His kingdom and all these things that you desire shall be given to you.” He is after a relationship with you.
2. Do not go to have your problems solved – Life is full of challenges, hardships or problems. Even Jesus had challenges while here on earth. In fact, every level in life comes with its own challenges. Believe me, you will face challenges both when you are unmarried and even when you marry. A mayor has challenges, so does the president. The only difference is the kind of challenges you face.
That’s why any message that promises you a challenge or problem-free life is misleading and has left many people disappointed, depressed and heartbroken. The key is who is with you when you face challenges?
Jesus put it this way, in the world you will have tribulations. But be of good cheer because, “I have overcome the world.” And Apostle Paul says in Romans that though he was afflicted in every way, the challenges did not crush him, persecuted but he was not forsaken, struck down but he was not destroyed. God always gives you the ability to overcome challenges. But He is not a genie you can run to just to have your problems solved then after that you do not want anything to do with him.
3. Do not go for eye service – There are so many things that please the eye. The eye always wants to see and is never satisfied. Jesus says people even pray at the street corners so others can see them. People pray or give so they are recognised or praised for whatever they are doing.
They go to church to see miracles. They go to watch or to be watched. People who go to church for eye service have a tendency of moving from one church to the other in search of recognition for whatever they are doing. Eye service people worship God with their lips and not their hearts.
4. Do not go because it’s near or famous – Most people want to link or attach themselves to famous things, places or people. Everyone wants to be close to a president, minister or any other important personality. Or even work for famous companies or organisations. This has led many people to attend a famous church or connect to famous preachers.
You do not go to church because it’s near or famous. You go because you are fed with the word of God. A church should be home and a good environment where you can grow spiritually and in other areas of your life.
5. Do not go because it’s a perfect church – There is no perfect church because the church is full of imperfect people worshipping a perfect God and trusting God for perfection. If you think there is a perfect church, then don’t join it because the day you will, it will stop being perfect because of you.
The author is a pastor, mentor and fitness trainer.