Many years ago, I found myself burnt out with church. I was working as a social worker at a Christian relief organization. All my co-workers loved Jesus, so I was surrounded by a Christian community. On a regular basis, I had the opportunity to share Christ’s love with those who didn’t know him. I was serving the stranger, the orphan, the poor, and the displaced. My job had me interacting with several pastors and church leaders on a weekly basis. When Friday hit, I often felt like I had been at church all week! The weekly gathering, serving, and fellowshipping with my church was becoming too much. I gradually started pulling away. I started skipping Sunday morning worship and weekly small group meetings. I stepped down from service roles that related to church. As each week passed, I began to take more and more permanent steps away from the church.
Then, all of a sudden, my whole world changed, and I went through an unexpected crisis. When the crisis hit, weeks had passed since I had stepped foot in church or my weekly small group. I was growing accustomed to life without the church. But then, my world fell apart. About 24 hours into my personal hurricane, my wise husband, insisted we go to our church small group. I did not want to go. There was nothing anyone could physically do to fix what I was going through. I had felt disconnected and like we
weren’t a good fit for this small group from the beginning. What support could they actually offer? I had already received counsel from friends, family, and other wise authority. Nevertheless, he dragged me to the group.
I’ll never forget walking through the door that night to small group. I was a ghost of a human. I was so distraught I could barely speak, barely move, barely be. I sat down on the red, leather couch and tried with every fiber of my being not to sob in the fetal position. You could have heard a pin drop. And then my husband began to speak. He began to share my excruciating news. I remember thinking, “I’m not even close to these people, why are we here? This is so embarrassing. Maybe they will just judge me. I never should have come.” He was only a few sentences in and one by one those in the room began to move closer to me. At one point, one of the women came over and wrapped her arms around me, like a
mother would to an injured child. As my husband talked, I felt hands start to reach out to me. One on my shoulder, one on my head, one on my knee. Before I knew it, they were all praying for me. Not just blanket prayers but ones with fervor, passion, and determined pleas. They were all interceding, approaching the throne of God, for me.
I already knew that the only one who could truly walk me through my crisis was God. I was reluctant to come to small group, believing no good could come by sharing my troubles with the church. What I did not remember is that the body of Christ is powerful together. Matthew 18:20 says, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” I forgot that the church belongs to God. Ephesians 5:25 portrays Christ loving the Church as a husband loves his wife. Christ, being the loving husband gave himself up on the cross, for his church, the body of believers. I forgot that the church is
designed to be diverse in giftings, yet still one body in their unity in Christ and with each other (Romans 12:4-5). 1 Corinthians 12:26 lays out best what I didn’t realize before being dragged to small group that night. “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” I was suffering, and so, my church, also was suffering. It was profound to see others take on my pain and turn it over to God. Looking back, it was one of the most beautiful pictures of church I have ever seen. These people in my small group were not my best friends. A few of them annoyed me to no end, but they were
believers in Jesus, like me. That bold faith in a God who can redeem, heal, and bring justice to a broken world is what made that group the church. Faith is what made those prayers powerful. Faith is what made a group of imperfect, sinful people unite in love for each other, despite their differences.
That, my friends, is just one of the many reasons why you need the church. This summer, when you find fun, busy days possibly calling you away from your commitment to church, remember that the church needs your unique, God-given giftings. And that like me, you may find yourself very unexpectedly needing the church and its members to uphold you and bring you to the throne of the only One who can rescue you and save the world.