Ed Crossley, is a member of the 6pm congregation, involved in RML Mark, here he reflects on how to walk into church well.
When I started university, I was a keen and eager follower of Jesus. I went to church each Sunday, read my Bible and prayed (most) days. I was a member of a student bible study group and I genuinely loved the Lord. But as I look back now, I realise that there was a huge hole in my understanding of the Christian life: I hadn’t the first clue about what it means to be part of God’s church family. I had no idea how to do something which sounds so easy. I did not know how to walk into church.
This issue is something we have been thinking about quite a bit at the 6pm congregation recently. We had a sermon series on (essentially) this theme from Philippians, and some of us at RML Mark have just been on a weekend away all about it too. What does it mean to be a part of God’s family? How should we walk into church?
We should walk into church with something of the following attitude.
1. Walk into church… as partners in the gospel
As Charlie preached to us from Philippians, he showed us that Paul was thankful for the Philippians partnership in the gospel (Philippians 1:5). And as he did so, there was a challenge for us: are we partners for the gospel in the same way? We should be like members of a rugby scrum, striving together towards the same goal. We should be like members of an impenetrable Roman shield wall, standing side-by-side, shoulder to shoulder, and relying on one another as we fight together.
We should not walk into church as mere church members, or church attenders, but as partners in the gospel, working together and doing what we can to see God’s kingdom grow.
2. Walk into church… as members of the same body
We are all to be partners in the gospel, but God has made us all very differently, and each of us different gifts and skills. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, Paul explains that the church is one body, but it is made up of lots of different parts – arms, legs, eyes and so on. And the body needs each arm, leg, eye and nose to play its part to make the body work properly. The church needs every one of us, just as a body needs every one of its parts.
We should walk into church knowing that the church needs each one of us, eager to use the gifts God has uniquely given us to serve the body.
3. Walk into church… praying about where to sit
This final comment is copied unashamedly from the first chapter of Tony Payne’s excellent book 'How to walk into church'. It is extremely short and easy to read, but it is excellent. I recommend it unreservedly.
Tony Payne observes that if we walk into church praying about where to sit, that puts us in the right frame of mind towards God. We acknowledge that God is in charge of every aspect of church, and that our ideas and preferences and dreams about what church should be like come a distant second. It also puts us in the right frame of mind towards each other. We begin to think about church as being about someone other than us, but as an opportunity for us to serve other people.
We should walk into church praying about where to sit. This attitude expresses perfectly what church is, and what it is we are doing there.