Is church the only place to worship God? If I choose to read my bible and meditate in the comfort of my own home, and not give my tithes to a church but to organizations that feed the hungry and help the disadvantaged, as Jesus Christ said we should do, then am I not as good as someone who goes to church every Sunday, tithes their 10%, and won’t even turn to their neighbor on the pew with a friendly greeting, much less give to the homeless or anyone else for that matter? Chuch was a big part of my life as it was and still is for many. I was baptized and my mother took me to church where I attended Sunday School and learned about the Trinity (Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit). As an adult, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior (and still do) and joined two churches where I was eager to serve and learn the Word of God. But like so many others, I became disillusioned.
Today, people are not going to places of worship like they used to. Why? If you turned on the television to one of the mega churches and see the packed houses, you would think all is well, but it is not. People are getting turned off by the hypocrisy they are witnessing inside many so-called places of worship. Some church folks are not loving their neighbors as they would love themselves and are not practicing the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31) of treating others as they would like to be treated. I don’t doubt that there are places of worship where the members really want to worship God and practice these things, but it just doesn’t seem like a lot these days, and with so much going on, people are really looking for something good to believe in. There are a lot of people who want to worship and serve God but there are too many so-called ” good church folk” blocking their paths or chasing them away from the church with their attitudes and behavior. If worshipping God is your primary focus, why are you worried about what someone is wearing, what they look like, and how they are speaking? Instead, shouldn’t you be embracing them, especially when they are new in their faith? Shouldn’t the body nurture and encourage them to serve? When I accepted Christ, I was eager to serve and hungry for knowledge of my new faith, but you know what, after joining two churches, seeking these things, my hopes were dashed by what I witnessed inside the House of God. Don’t get me wrong, there were some good people and the churches did some good things, but I witnessed many disturbing things. In addition to hypocrisy, slander, church politics, and down-right meaness, there was so much of the “world” inside that it was hard to differentiate between the two. I went to church to worship God with other Christians and feel good, but often I felt worse than when I came in. Everyone told me, especially the elders “That happens at every church. You can’t keep running to a new church every time something happens,” but my question was why do things like that have to happen, especially if we all are suppose to have the mind of Christ? Shouldn’t the church be the one place where you feel safe and can be free of the world for a little while?” No one could answer that question. I talked to elders, pastors, and even my mother, but what they said did not sit right with me. I prayed but still my feelings did not change. I knew that I could not sit in church and pretend to feel something that I no longer did, so, I left about four years ago and have not joined another church since then, and right now, I don’t know if I ever will.
My mother is from the old school that believes that you have to belong to a church, otherwise, you will not be blessed, no one will be at your funeral, and you will not meet a good mate. Well, I feel that I am blessed. I’m healthy and get most things that I want. i don’t want a funeral, so that’s not a problem. And there were some nice men at church, but going to meet a man was not my primary concern. Having a relationship with God or the Creator (as I like to say), walking in the ways of Jesus Christ, and living in truth and honesty are my primary concerns. Following the Golden Rule (often a work in progress these days), and being a positive influence are also high on the list.
Is the church the only place to worship? No, the church is not just four walls, but each individual. As a believer, you are the body, you are the church and you can take it with you wherever you go. 1 Corinthians 12: 12-27 talks about how every believer is a member of Christ’s body. We are all connected and if more believer’s witnessed and practiced that, then I don’t think the question I posed would be necessary. Believers of all faiths, open your eyes!