Three(3) Important Things A Church Should Do To Its Members
There are a variety of ways to assess our experience when we come to a church service, or we visit maybe another congregation, but the most common question that summarizes the whole thing usually is, “What did you get out of it?” Some people leave congregations and they seek out new ones with the excuse, “I just wasn’t getting anything out of it.” Obviously this suggests that people have certain expectations about their church life and even if they can’t describe in detail what it is that they need, they do know that they need something from church and if they don’t receive it, they will quit and go somewhere else.
1. A Sense of God’s Presence
People come to a church service because they believe in a God that they can’t see and they want in some way to have an experience of Him. I know that Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to forsake the assembling of the saints, but this is not a reason to come, it’s just a warning not to quit coming. Habit or fear is a poor motivator for coming to church because it almost guarantees that we won’t experience God, we’ll only experience our habit and our fear.
The Roman Catholics had the idea of this. They built huge and magnificent church buildings in the middle ages, and even to this day. Their point was that upon entering some towering edifice with gold and other worldly decor, you would have an experience that was unlike any other experience in your life. You left feeling that God was majestic, mighty and mysterious.
Of course they had the right idea, but I believe they had the wrong method. Paul says:
…think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man.
2. A Sense of Direction
There are a million books out there that will try to tell you what to do with your life, but there’s only one book that tells you what God wants you to do with your life. When a person leaves a church service, that person should have a sense of where he or she is going. I suppose what I’m saying here is aimed more at those who serve as elders and ministers and teachers because they’re charged with ministering the Word of God to the church.
When I was in college, my professors would insist that sermons and lessons have a point, that sermons and lessons have a “so what,” an instruction to the hearer about what he or she needed to do, or understand, or change. The reasons for this are evident.
- When Jesus taught, He taught with a purpose that His hearers would either believe, or they would repent, or they would follow, or they would be comforted, or any number of reasons.
- When people come to church, they’re coming for answers, they want direction, they want confirmation, they need encouragement, even need discipline. And when they don’t receive any, they feel that their time was wasted.
Paul says that:
16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
– II Timothy 3:16-17
3. A Sense of Belonging
In a survey about religion in America, it was noted that the number one thing that people want to get when they come to church is a sense of belonging. This is not surprising considering the present condition of our society.
- The traditional extended family is gone. There’s no more grandparents living with you, and relatives around you for a lifetime.
- People move on an average of every four to five years. Meaning you have to make new friends and get used to a new place regularly.
- One out of two marriages are ending in divorce meaning that there are a lot of single moms and single dads or blended families out there.
- More people are single longer, widowed longer, living by themselves longer than ever before.
- The internet is becoming the fastest way to make new virtual friends.
So it’s not surprising that what people want to “get” when they come to church is a sense of belonging, that for whatever reasons they have not managed to feel in their normal lives.
This is a great opportunity for the church because God designed it to be a place where everyone could belong.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
– Galatians 3:28