For several seasons of my life…I didn’t go to church. I’m not talking missing a few Sundays here and there, I’m talking 100% disconnected.
I found my way back to church, but I never felt that I was truly a part of that church. It was huge and there were maybe a couple of people that recognized us each Sunday. We continued to go, because I loved the worship music, and it gave me a dedicated time to focus on the message God had for me for the week ahead.
When we moved across the country for the second time, I found myself in a similar situation. Big church. Just a number. Then the twins were born… so I felt justified in not going.
Then 2020 hit…and I along with countless other Christians flipped to the church livestream services.
It was then that I discovered Joel Osteen…and for the next two years, I watched his services online. Many times I would listen to multiple messages per week.
Now I know that there is a lot of controversy about Joel- that his messages lack substance. That he doesn’t talk about the fullness of what’s in scripture. I get it. But God is using Joel to meet people where they’re at.
And for me, in my life, he spoke to me the words I needed to hear in that season AND not only that, he led me back to a physical church.
If you’ve never heard a Joel Osteen sermon, he ends his message the same way. He leads people to accept Christ, and he encourages them to get connected into a local Bible believing church.
“Get connected into a local Bible-believing church”…. I heard that message hundreds of times.
Yet I didn’t make the effort, because I believed a lie.
“I don’t need a church building to connect to God.”
In hindsight- I see that this was a lie of the Enemy, that I bought into hook, line and sinker. Oh man, with hindsight being 20/20 I can unequivocally say that believing it not only stunted my spiritual growth tremendously, it also robbed me of life-giving connection and community.
It was a signature move… a half- truth.
Is it true that we can connect to God outside of a church building? Of course.
Is it true that God speaks to us outside of church? Of course.
But the lie comes through the conclusion that we make stemming from this statement:
“So I don’t really need to go to Church.”
When I realized that that I needed Church, that attending made me feel better…
The Enemy piped up with a new tactic:
“You don’t need to go to in-person church…. live stream is the same. It’s more convenient anyways. You’ve got 3 small kids, it takes a long time to find a church, etc. etc.”
I bought into that lie for years. That live-streaming a service is the same as attending in person. I know it’s a lie now, because for nearly 2 years I’ve been back to attending a church in-person and I see the radical difference.
Besides, the results I was experiencing (lack of connection, isolation and stunted spiritual growth) were clearly the results of the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy. I was robbed of friendship and connection to others and a deeper connection to God.
Everything changed in October 2021 when I found my church home. You can read the story HERE.
I found a small, local Bible-believing church, just like Joel Osteen had advised hundreds of times. I got connected. I made it a priority to attend the church gatherings. I’m even co-leading a small group now, and I’m a part of another bible study.
I’ve grown more spiritually in the past 2 years than all of the previous 3 decades combined. And I’ve found deeper connection with others for the first time in over a decade.
When I walk through the doors of our church, I FEEL the presence of God there in a way that’s different from my home or anywhere else that I would connect with God.
I tell you all that to say this.
Go to church, y’all.
The church is more than a physical building. It’s a body of believers who are all navigating life. The church is imperfect because it’s made up of imperfect people.
“For all have sinned, and all fall short of the Glory of God” – Romans 3:23
The enemy likes to use the fact that there are hypocrites in the church to keep us out of church. That we have been hurt in the past by people at church…to keep us from finding a new church home.
Listen to me, friend, It’s a trap.
Don’t take the bait.
By showing up regularly, by being a part of the body of Christ, we learn how to live out our faith. It’s by being a part of the body of Christ, and walking out my faith that the Holy Spirit has convicted me in multiple areas of my life where I was believing lies.
God has used the people in my local church to support me, pour into me, and give me more than I could have ever imagined.
I was being held back by the Enemy, and I’m beyond grateful to have broken free of those lies… because I’m not the only one who has benefitted.
My entire family has been abundantly blessed.
Go to church y’all….
It may time some time to find the right fit, but don’t stop trying to find it.
Ask God to lead you to the perfect church home. It’s SO important. Once you find your church home, take it a step further and get involved. Being a part of a local church is so much more than being in a building on Sunday. Fellowship with other believers has been life-giving for me, and I know that it will be for you.
Here’s a prayer for those of you searching for a church.
I want to find a local church with a body of believers to support me and help me get to know you more. I need your help. Please direct me, Lord, to a place filled with God-honoring Christians that love you, honor and praise you and have a thirst to know you better. A church with members who encourage one another, love one another, and do good works.
I also ask, Lord, that you heal me of my woundedness relating to past church experiences. Soothe my heart and soul. Holy Spirit cleanse my mind of the thoughts related to these past experiences, so that there is no open door for the Enemy to come in to poison my mind in this regard. I know that you want me to find a church home, and that it will bless me and others when I do. I rebuke the lies of the Enemy that encourage me to stay away from a local church. I am ready to find my church home, Lord, and I will go where you lead, so please lead me.
In Jesus Name I Pray,