Written by Evi Idoghor
On Sunday, I was invited to a baby shower, where women from my church gathered to celebrate two soon-to-be mothers. The joy in these women's hearts radiated as they took in the scenery that had been set up just for them to have a good time. There was plenty of food to eat, games to play, laughs to be had, and great conversations to keep our minds stimulated. What I witnessed that day was the true definition of sisterhood within the body of Christ, something I had never experienced before.
Sundays are now my favorite days of the week; long after the church service has concluded, people linger in the hallways, catching up with others, sharing laughs or pain, or whatever they are feeling at the time. As we navigate life, it is critical for Christ-followers to be a part of a healthy church community - we cannot afford to be isolated in our Christian walk.
Why is this essential?
In both good and bad times, a church community will be there for you; they will encourage you, lift you up in prayer, and correct you when you are wrong. According to the Bible, “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
When we gather and share our journeys or experiences with each other, we are more likely to leave encouraged than when we arrived. Because we may discover that someone has gone through what we are going through and has overcome it. That gives us hope that we, too, can overcome or achieve what others have. There will also be times when we doubt our Christian faith because of trials and tribulations, and if we are not part of a community of believers, we may spiral out of control or, in some cases, lose our belief in God entirely.
That is why we should not abandon the gathering of believers (church) so that we can continue to learn and grow, as well as hold each other accountable. If you are not a part of a church community, if you fall, there may be no one to help you get back up. There will be no one to help you overcome your secret sins if you are struggling with them. A church community, like a family, is there to uplift you, pray for and with you, guide you down the right path, give you advice on various aspects of your life, help you when you need it, and forgive you when you fall short.
There has been a recent increase in the use of online churches. The sprout of growth appeared at a time when the world was facing a deadly pandemic. I could be in Nigeria and attend a live service in California (the beauty of technology). However, now that things have calmed down and people have returned to normalcy, there are those who see this service as a substitute for attending a physical service. Nothing irks me more than hearing – I didn't feel like going to church today, so I watched the worship service online, (I might be ruffling some feathers here).
We've all seen what happens when someone streams. While your pastor's voice serenades the background, Instagram is open with constant scrolling. While prayer is ongoing, you frequently take short breaks to respond to messages and phone calls. It should not be like this. The local church community is intended for you to learn God's word, serve one another, and have a community of people with whom you can do life. The New Testament is rife with believers encouraging each other, especially during difficult times – greet this person for me, pray for me, I am glad you came to see me. These are the benefits you can't have if you're in one country and your church is in another, or if you just watch services online – you need people on the ground.
It would be imprudent of me to end this article without acknowledging those who have been hurt by their church. Most times, those who have gone through this ordeal no longer want to be associated with the church. I understand how difficult it is. Allow yourself a short period of time to heal, and if reconciliation cannot occur in the place where you were hurt, try somewhere else that places the gospel at its center.
The enemy would love for you to withdraw from the church and never have anything to do with God's people again. And that is a dangerous situation to be in because he can wreak havoc on you. According to the Bible, we should not be unaware of our adversary's tactics. So, if you have been hurt by your church community, understand that disappointments are a natural part of life, and in a place where things can be forgiven and reconciled, that should take place. Where there is no room for reconciliation in cases of abuse and other sinful matters, then you should prayerfully consider somewhere else.
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