Fence Post of Faith January 2015                                                                                                                                                

I have to thank a Baptist Pastor named Brother Russell Adams for my interest in Church Growing up, who is in his later 80’s and is still activity preaching. But I left the church as a teenager like a lot do. I was seeing the world in a different light when it came to my faith. The world threw a Bible at me for persisting with my questions, and the only image of Christianity I saw regularly was a guy standing on a box with a bullhorn, yelling at passersby about how we were doomed to hell without him.

Fortunately I found a new community in my late twenties that represented something different. I started attending a Christian Church where I lived in Fort Madison. We could wear whatever we wanted, and never once did I feel judged or scrutinized by the others at Church. I was welcomed for who I was, not what I could do or give, and I was included in gatherings outside the Sunday service as well.

I would not have even given it a try, though, had my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) not persisted in inviting me. I said no many times before saying yes, and it was only after I had seen enough evidence from her that defied my presuppositions about Christianity that I was finally wiling to see who these other people she gathered with were about.

       Some twenty years later, I’m a Christian Lay Minister and speaker at other Churches, I’ve helped revive a new Cowboy Church Service while involved in High School Rodeo years with our daughter.  I’ve led worship in multiple congregations, Rodeo’s and Barrelbash barrel races, and other horse related activites. Fortunately God’s grace is more persistent and patient than the time it took for me come back to being active in the Church.

Some people claim to be Christians but don't attend church. They say, "Well, I haven't found a church I like yet, and I work and Sunday is my only day off!" But if you really love God, you will love His people and long to be with them.

The Bible indeed commands us to go to church, and-even more-to be a functioning part of it. Hebrews 10:24–25 says, "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (NKJV).

I like the way the New Living Translation puts it: "Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near." The Bible does not say: Don't forsake the assembling of yourselves together unless Sunday is your only day off, or unless you want to run in a triathlon, or unless it's a great beach day, in which case you are excused, because you just don't need fellowship as much as other Christians do.

Yes, if you love God, you will love His people and long to be with them. If you don't really love God, you won't love His people. Some will say "I'm so over the church; people are critical and judgmental. It's so full of hypocrites!" My response to that is: There is always room for one more! Understand, I am not justifying hypocrisy of any kind, but honestly, we have all been hypocritical at times. But that is not a reason to not attend church. The church has its flaws because people are in it. However, Jesus both started and loves the church. He died for it.

Being in fellowship is a proof that you are indeed a child of God. It says in 1 John 3:14, "We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death" (NIV). Psalm 133:1 says, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (NKJV). Not going to church is a proof that something is wrong with you spiritually. We read in 1 John 2:19, "These people left our churches because they never really belonged with us; otherwise they would have stayed with us. When they left us, it proved that they do not belong with us" (NLT).

Studies show that if you don't go to church for a month, the odds are almost 2 to 1 that you won't go for more than a year. Being a vital and active part of the church is something we pass on to our kids. A study once disclosed that: If both Mom and Dad attend church regularly, 72% of their children remain faithful in attendance; if only Dad attends regularly, 55% remain faithful; if only Mom attends regularly, 15% remain faithful; and if neither attend regularly, only 6% remain faithful.

In 2015, just give the Church another Chance. Don’t do it for me do it for yourself.