Basics: Enjoy the people God loves

by Kyle
published July 11, 2015


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My mentor in ministry taught me something I pray you will also remember: You will always find what you’re looking for.

In the next paragraph, it will seem like I have drastically changed the subject. When I do, remember that you will always find what you’re looking for.

I love fishing. Natural fishing — the kind with a rod and reel where you catch marine creatures — is fun, but that’s not the kind of fishing I normally refer to these days. My friends know when I ask them to go fishing with me, I’m talking about supernatural fishing — the kind where my favorite lures are bookmarked in a ragged, leather-bound book, the kind of fishing Jesus liked to do.

Lately, I’ve learned never to throw back “bait fish.” Bait fish are fish that you can use to catch other fish. In this analogy, the bait fish are those people who claim to already be believers in Jesus. With bait fish, you either have the opportunity to enjoy some fellowship, or to encourage that Christian in their walk, or both.

What I found when I started really talking to bait fish instead of moving on was shocking. Usually the conversation will go like this:

Me: You’re a Christian? That’s awesome. It’s so good to meet a brother in Christ. Where do you go to church?

Bait fish: Oh, well, um, er, I don’t really go to church.

Me: Really? Why not?

Bait fish: (insert lame excuse here)

Me: Do you know what church is for?

After a series of profoundly unbiblical answers, the typical bait fish will confess they don’t know what church is for. Shocked by this, I later found bait fish who do go to church really don’t understand what it’s for either.

Let me address some misconceptions here. Church is not for worship. Worship happens at church, but God intends your whole life to be lived in worship of him (see Romans 12:1). Church is not for instruction. Instruction happens at church, but teaching is a ministry of the Holy Spirit, who is our true teacher and lives in believers always (see John 14:26). Church is not for fellowship. Fellowship primarily happens at church, but fellowship flows from our walk with God and can be enjoyed with any believer whether they go to church with you or not (see 1 John 1:7).

Church is the venue where believers encourage and provide accountability to each other for walking with Christ. The book of Hebrews says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25). Church is the tool God uses to help us deepen and strengthen our walk with him.

If you walk into a church expecting to find cliques and hypocrites, you will find them. If you walk in expecting to find errors in doctrine or faults in the child care program, you will find them. You always find what you’re looking for.

If, however, you walk into a church looking for what it’s there for in the first place, you’ll find that, too. If you look for encouragement and support for your walk with God, you’ll find it.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking through the basic elements of the Christian life. There are ordinary spiritual things that God expects of us as his children, and those ordinary things must be in place in our lives before we have the right to expect extraordinary spiritual things. One of those things is enjoying the people God loves or plugging into a local church body.

Volumes can be and have been written on what a church is supposed to be or do or believe, but the Bible gives very little direct instruction. It’s hard to go wrong when a church is committed to the legitimate gospel and to the authority of the Bible. Find a church like that and get active encouraging other brothers and sisters and looking for encouragement to live out what the Bible says is true.

Last Sunday, I enjoyed an afternoon by the river with my own church family. Yes we had amazing fellowship. I love the people in my church, and I love spending time with them. Yes, we worshipped. We worshipped in church that morning, and we kept on singing when we got to the river. Yes, there was instruction, both formally in the sermon and Sunday school that morning, but also sprinkled in conversation. Through all of it, Sunday was just about the perfect day. But it was not an end to itself. I started the day tired and down after a particularly hard week of ministry. I ended the day encouraged and “spurred on toward good works.” Even as a pastor, that’s what I went to church that morning to find in the middle of my tiredness, and that’s exactly what I found. I am convinced the same kind of strength is available to all believers at any Bible-believing church. Including you.

What do you think?

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