Life Together, Part 2: Reasons to Find a Church No Matter Where You Are

92 Being the resident "church nerd" that I am it may seem as though I write this with a certain amount of bias, and truth be told...I do. Thus before proceeding with the case for church there is a need to distinguish between two animals belonging to the same kingdom (i.e. God's Kingdom). They are the church and the para-church. Church is defined as...well, church. Sermons, sacraments, little old ladies, crying babies, music both uplifting and awful, elders, deacons, etc. Para-church is a little different and includes many of the ministries I listed and encouraged participation in last week; InterVarsity, Cru, Campus Outreach, etc. Para-church ministries are organizations that ideally strive to support the ministry of local churches in some way, shape, or form. They are often described as "coming alongside" the church and conversely they could not exist without the support (both prayerful and financial) of local churches. Let's say you're involved in a campus fellowship group of some sort during the week. You're challenged by the leaders, you're in a small group Bible study, and you look for and find opportunities to serve there. Is it really necessary to make the effort to find a church during your years on campus or away from home? Yes. Here's a few reasons why... 1. Because you we're created to be part of a spiritual family. When Adam was looking for a companion in Genesis, God gave him Eve. Then they had kids...and those kids had kids...and before long the family, with all its dysfunctional manifestations, became the foundation of society. What you notice is that God did not provide Adam and Eve with a college dorm room, fraternity, or even a campus fellowship group. Paul (a single man) picked up on the family as a metaphor for the church in Ephesians 5:22-6:4. Spiritually speaking it's great to have lots of brothers and sisters, but don't forget grandma and grandpa or even the annoying little cousin. Older generations need the fresh perspective of younger ones, while younger generations benefit from the wisdom and experience of older generations (Proverbs 4:1-4).

2. Because the church is your inheritance. Actually, the real inheritance for followers of Christ is eternal life (Colossians 1:12, Hebrews 9:15). But in the meantime we are here and there is work to be done. The church is what Jesus established to continue the work of revealing God's Kingdom on earth (Acts 1:8). You're a part of that. Theologically speaking, para-church ministries fall under the umbrella of God's Kingdom too. Their work is good and necessary, but the church is uniquely qualified for and appointed to certain important tasks. For example the church is responsible for administering sacraments and discipline. The church also has the prerogative to discern what para-church ministries it will support and partner with.

Practically speaking, you're getting older. Eventually you will not be the target of any youth, student, or campus ministry and if you are to continue in the life of faith it is the support of a local neighborhood church that you will come to appreciate and value more and more. If you had a wealthy uncle write you into his will, chances are you would make an effort to maintain a relationship with your uncle for as long as possible prior to his passing. Christ of course is not dead, but think of the church as part of what he's left you until the time of his return.

3. Because discipline is your friend. Especially if you are in college going to church on Sunday morning (or perhaps Saturday or Sunday evening) would actually require you to think a little bit about your plans for the rest of the weekend. But I assume you are a responsible young adult who knows how to balance work and fun. The bigger issue is that the church possesses God-given authority to "give instruction in sound doctrine and rebuke those who contradict it" (Titus 1:9). The church does not always get this aspect of "churchiness" right (that's another blog...coming soon), but nonetheless elders and deacons are appointed to be overseers who guard the teaching of the Gospel and have authority to discipline people who go too far afield. Discipline is for our benefit. It keeps us on the right track.

4. Because they will love you! They may not know exactly what to do with you right away, but a growing number of churches are realizing that those typically described as "millenials" are a rare and valuable commodity. If you're lucky you will be treated as though you were a B-movie celebrity. Be prepared for dinner invitations, ministry opportunities, and perhaps even questions about whether or not you would be up for a blind date with so-and-so's grandchild. Use discretion, particularly concerning the third item in that list. But don't be afraid to dive in and become part of the family...metaphorically speaking of course!