We need church, church needs us
By Dr. Gregory B. Boyd, Pastor
First Baptist Church, Hartsville
Did you grow up in church? This article will be helpful if you did so you can get a glimpse of what it is like for an unchurched person to visit your church. Did you not grow up in, or attend, church? This article will help you to understand church and how important it is to continue your spiritual journey with others on the same path. Jesus became real to me my junior year of high school through hearing the good news about Him at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). I had never been a member of any church and attended church services only once in a while. My family was not against God, Jesus, church, or Christianity, it just wasn’t in our routine. During one FCA meeting, the coach explained that those meetings were never meant to replace church, and that we needed to attend and support a local church. Out of respect, I tried. My parents told me I was baptized as a baby in the family’s denomination (denominations are different categories of church organizations, like Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, Catholic, etc.). So I attended a church of that kind. Boring. I tried a different one the next week. It seems like every Sunday I tried a new church with a different name, but never connected with any of them. Here’s what it was like for me: I was rock and roll and they were Lawrence Welk (look it up if you need to). I not only didn’t care for that kind of music, but I sure didn’t understand the words. “I’ve been washed in the blood of the Lamb…” That’s just gross to anyone who doesn’t understand church jargon. I had to listen to announcements for things that had nothing to do with my quest to know God. What is a women’s auxiliary meeting anyway? Then they wanted my money! I didn’t know there was a cover charge to go to church. And rather than comfortable living room chairs, we sat in long wooden benches they called “pews.” Strange. Finally, the minister came to preach. I really looked forward to learning about the Lord and listened intently. Yet, it seemed like no matter which denomination I tried, the preachers used names, places, symbols, and words that I had never heard, nor had any context in which to understand the message. To me church was disappointed and very confusing. I thought, “Just let me go on a long run outside, and that’s my church.” I’ve heard many people say the same thing through the years. After high school, I attended a small college in Brevard, N.C. The school did not have an FCA, so I started one! I also visited several churches in town because in my heart I knew that, somehow, this was important and the right thing. I finally connected with a church when I started taking notes of the message. They were actually interesting and relevant! I started reading the words to the hymns, and discovered they often revealed powerful truths about the Lord and life as a Christian. I transferred to Auburn University and again visited various churches. By this time, I could effectively determine how much I would benefit from the church by the amount of notes I left with, sometimes not even a paragraph. One church in particular, however, had a young preacher that communicated relevant wisdom straight out of the Bible! Each week I learned something new. I eventually joined that church. After I joined, I discovered how important it is to connect with others. Those who have been down the road you are on now can provide godly wisdom for your next steps. There are also people who are now on the path you experienced years ago. You can help them. We used to see signs on church lawns: Church Bazaar. I thought, “Y’all got that right, you really are a bizarre bunch of people.” Now I know that small groups and big churches are essential for us to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. We need church and church needs us.