by Pam Clark

    This question, to many who have been raised in it, seems like a crazy question. Theology books abound on the subject and yet people are coming in every day who don't have a clue as to what going to church is all about.

    The Gospel, or the Good News about Jesus Christ, is really quite simple. Put simply, there is a God beyond your natural world. When the power of this life comes into your life, it takes on an extra dimension. Only one problem. There are two gods, or spiritual power sources, and one is from the Author of Life and one is a counterfeit.

    The Author of Life created the Universe. Not only that, the Author of Life wants personal relationship with you. Intimidating? Yes. But real? Yes, also. The other god, who can go by many different names, including impersonation, offers you a "power source" for this temporary life but cannot offer you real peace and promise, now or beyond the grave.

    The God who can raise people from the dead is Jesus and He came to earth as a man, but yet also God, to give a living example to us as to how to live, as well as what His powers and abilities are toward us and for us. He rose from the dead and His ministry has gone on for generations. It's established.

    God gave man free choice that He might have communion and fellowship with Him. In that choice making ability, we can choose to go another way. But He made the choice ability with the factor of loving, fulfilling blessing if we choose the right way. If all the choices were easy, it would not mean much. But Jesus' life proves that even if you have to deny your very own life, the choice for God is worth it because He is greater than hell and death.

    Wow. Heavy stuff, but we all must face our own mortality and problems. But I don't want to just address the life after death issue here, I want to address the life in this life issue. Those who call themselves Christians have a guidebook for life that is called The Holy Bible. In this Book, the mysteries of God are revealed. It's a spiritual book and it must be spiritually discerned.

    You don't read this book like a novel, for while there are stories in there, the stories have to be understood in a Spiritual light to make sense of them and have them do you any good. The good news is that the Holy Spirit is available to whoever would call on the Name of the Lord Jesus. But you must call on Him to receive Him. As a kind and loving and patient God, He will help you to understand Him and His Word and His Ways. No one is an overnight sensation, but spiritual growth can be revolutionary!

    The only expert that God promises us are His Spirit and His Word. He has sent forth ministers to help us and they do greatly, but perfection alone lies with Him. I say that because there is no perfect person who has ever lived on this earth. The Bible plainly says that ALL have sinned (or missed it and offended God by wrong choices) and come short of the glory of God. But because He wants us to have that choice, He has made a way through His Son Jesus for all to come to Him through Him.

    God wants personal relationship WITH YOU. Isn't that an awesome thought? But it's true! When you ask Jesus Christ to come into your life, He will come into your life with the ability to make you His child - His son or His daughter. And He promises to take care of you from this life to the next. But you must also do your part to make this relationship work! A one sided relationship is no relationship at all!

    So therefore you believe, and by believing you speak what it is that you believe. This confession solidifies your commitment to this God. Just pray and tell God that you need Him and want Him and desire Him. Tell Him you believe in His Son Jesus and His Holy Spirit and His power will come into your life to enable you to become a successful Christian. But as I said, you must do your part of participating. All of this can be found in the Bible. Start reading with the New Testament.

    Many people will tell you many different things as to what Church is all about, but what I am sharing is the BOTTOM LINE of it all. In this there is a great freedom and the Bible Scriptures say: "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." When your soul is free, you know it. It will take you through the rough days.

    There are communities of people who gather together in the Name of the Lord and they call themselves churches. Actually Jesus said, "I will build My House, and the gates (or plans) of hell shall not prevail against the Church." What is this Church? Church is the gathering of believers where-ever they may be. Since His Spirit comes to live inside of us, we believers are the Body of Christ, or His Church!

    I can't preach the whole Bible in just these few short lines, but it is a fascinating study. God gave man the Ten Commandments to abide by as guidelines for living life in Him, if we are believers. One of those Commandments says to "Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy."

    People were to gather in a holy convocation and worship Him and learn of Him. This involves praise and worship and testimonies and instructions in Godliness and prayer, which all can result in beneficial miracles and fulfilled life. Giving is important to make this happen. While it's true that you can do all this by yourself to some degree or with a few friends on a street corner, people have created houses of worship, or churches, as we call them now, as places of sanctuary for these purposes. There is a blessing of God in it.

    It's not the building that matters as much as the heart, but the gathering together as believers is crucial and is commanded as something necessary and good for our lives. It is my strong belief because this is one of the Ten Great Commandments that honoring God in a place of worship with other believers at least once a week if at all possible is what God desires from us.

    People will argue on what day, or what time, or where at, or how often, or what manner or form or ritual, but really what people say is not as important as the heart issue of worshipping God in the way that He desires for us, in order to give us the blessing for choosing Him. All of our lives should be dedicated to Him, if we choose to live for Him, but this is the way He has stated is His desire for us, at minimum, and He pretty much holds the whole thing, you know?

    Now that it's established here that church is important, what is going on at church? This can be something that is greatly misunderstood and this misunderstanding can cause great problems for people. Some people can get so upset that they end up losing the blessing that God wants to give them!

    The purpose of church is for the gathering of believers to worship and learn of God. This all should be based on the Bible's instructions. Some want to get really zealous with details and while that may be good, getting into contentions over it is totally not the idea God has in mind for His true people. None of us are perfect or all-knowing and I think most of us just do the best we can and have to work with that!

    God has appointed ministers for the church, who are not God, but shepherds of people who lead, like a shepherd would a flock of sheep. Sheep and people are just going to do what sheep and people do, and so pastoring is not the easiest job in the world. But a good shepherd or pastor will do the best they can with the abilities they have to instruct and lead people into ways of righteousness.

    There are small independent churches that are established and there are also mega churches of mega denominations. Usually the bigger they are, the more defined their visions. As I said, it's the worshipping of God and the learning of Him that is more important than all the visions and programs. The visions and programs are great most of the time, and serve to bless people and help them in the Name of the Lord. But getting involved in programs at church is not the main reason we should go to church.

    Getting involved in visions and programs can be quite satisfying and a great way to express your gifts and your love back toward God. Surely you will be giving to someone else to help them along the way and this is highly commendable. But your relationship with God comes first before your service to others. Like I said, if you can do both, you are the better for it.

    God has called and placed people into the ministry to minister. Since this is God's program, it pays to honor God by honoring and obeying his ministers, but not at the expense of violating the Word of God or your own good relationship in the Holy Spirit with Him.

    A pastor at a local church has been given the authority to oversee the ministry and activities of the church. You may have a lot of great ideas on how things should be, but don't get disappointed if not everything goes the way you think it should. Often, because of the divine nature of the spiritual calling, the pastor is more right than you are! Be nice about that!

    There is a government to church structure but it is not so stringent that you should feel like you are in the military or a jail, nor should it take you away from the things of God toward something or someone else.

    Church should be a blessing. You should be able to find warm friends and ministry and healings and helps, and for everything you expect, you should in some measure be able to give back as well. It's not a place of spoiled brats who say "Give me, Give me!" (Sadly, some do that.) You should be able to develop good social relationships while serving and worshipping God.

    Church is not the answer to all the problems of the world. Personal relationship with Jesus and working together with others is though. Jesus is building His Body and we are that Body. It's not complete until all are in and walking in their fulfilled destinations. And it's going to happen! With you or without you.

    But oh what a joy to find your place and to be a part of something wonderful happening. And it is happening. If one place does not work out for you, continue working on changing yourself, but don't be bound by a just a structure. God wants you to grow in Him in that personal relationship and be a blessing to others. This pleases Him and will cause you to fit where you are supposed to fit. Keep looking up to HIM!

    God bless you.