I'll admit it, I don't have the best church attendance record. To be honest, I just don't like going if I don't think I'll get something out of it. This is selfish, I know. I realize that it's not all about me, but my discipline in this area is still severely lacking. Sometimes my husband and I will go to a church, and as soon as the service is over we'll start picking it apart. How did welike the worship? How did it make usfeel. Do you see the damaging, sinful thought pattern here? However, I soon discovered an excuse to make me feel better about my spotty church attendance. The classic "Church isn't all about a building," statement. Of course, this is true -- but this doesn't mean that I don't need church. The church is the body of Christ -- God's bride. It is made up of other believers that are meant to be, to put it plainly, Christ's ambassadors to the world.
While I don't believe it matters so much what kind of building the church meets in (whether it be a house or a convention center), I shouldn't walk around shunning the typical "church in a building with a cute little steeple" just for the sake of sounding cool, modern, or unconventional. I definitely shouldn't be shunning churches of the variety that meet in large buildings just because deep down I'm lazy, or have other lame reasons for not going to church. It's wrong for me to say, "I don't believe that that church is really what the church is supposed to be, so I'm just not going to go. I'll find a house church somewhere -- now that's a real church!" Wow, how arrogant am I? While it's true that I believe that house churches provide the ideal environment for believers to come together and encourage one another, that doesn't mean that one church is more real than the other. Because the church is the people, and what do I know of what's in their hearts?
Here's where the major paradigm shift comes in. Until recently, I had never really separated the place of worship from the worshipers. The church isn't the building, it's the people inside. I know this, I KNOW THIS, but somehow I didn't understand it. As soon as I realized this, my flimsy excuse for not going to church didn't hold water. I say the church isn't all about the building. Well, if I really believed that then I would go to church in spite of the fact that it meets in a conventional church building. What brought this paradigm shift on, you say? I hail from Southern California, and I used to attend a church called Rock Harbor (mostly geared towards college students). The pastor, Mike Erre, always has a great message to give, and I listen to the podcast of the sermon every week (I highly recommend that everyone download it). The last message included a statement that really struck me. Mike said that instead of saying we're going to church on Sunday, we should say we're going to the place where the church is gathering. Wow! How about not just saying this, but thinking it as well? This Sunday, I look forward to joining the gathering.