If you were to drive through the city of Memphis, you would notice a church, synagogue, mission or Christian ministry on almost every block.
Our city is in the southern part of the United States, which is often called “The Bible Belt.”
Further, we are in one of the most staunchly conservative sections of the south. For so many years, we have been known as being God-fearing, Bible-believing, church-attending traditional people of faith. This part of the country has been aptly labeled, “The Buckle” of the Bible belt.
However, I’ve noticed a trend, a change in the direction that the conventional breezes have been blowing.
In an area that has been known for churches packed with people and parking lots overflowing with cars, that is not the norm anymore.
Regularly, I run into people or talk to them on social media, and I hear this phrase, “We aren’t really going anywhere to church.”
Just this WEEK, I’ve talked to three precious families who are not attending any church, any Sunday, for any purpose. These are great folks that I’ve known for a long time, but they have somehow gotten disconnected from any gathering of believers.
Maybe they’ve been disappointed in church, by a church, by a pastor or by some people.
Or, they’ve been disillusioned,
Or they have just slowly drifted away, one week at a time.
Whatever the cause, I think it’s a serious issue.
Personally, I believe that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of wonderful people who once were actively involved in church in our area that are not attending anymore.
These are godly people who grew up in great homes, attended wonderful churches, were mentored and discipled by amazing people, know the Bible, have much to offer, but they have quit going to church completely.
With the implosion and explosion of many of the major churches in our city over the last few years, this is not unexpected.
But implosions, explosions, indiscretions, brawls and painful events happen in churches, ministries and Christian organizations in every city and state. Memphis is not unique in that way.
So, my purpose in this blog today is three-fold:
1) I want to mention a few reasons why worshipping together is good.
2) I want to encourage my brothers and sisters to try to find a place to worship with others in 2015.
3) I want to begin to offer some weekly worship suggestions – profiling some of the churches, ministries and people in our area who are authentically seeking to make a difference for the Kingdom of Christ.
Why Worship Together?
As a recent seminary graduate, I could write paragraph upon paragraph detailing all of the reasons and arguments that the Bible gives for church attendance.
However, for the sake of time and space, I’ll just keep it simple.
For support, I turn to Hebrews 10:23-24:
“Let us hold strong to the confession of our hope, never wavering, since the One who promised it to us is faithful. Let us consider how to inspire each other to greater love and to righteous deeds, not forgetting to gather as a community, as some have forgotten, but encouraging each other, especially as the day of His return approaches.”
1) We gather in community for US!
When we regularly gather with other believers, we are strengthened and given hope. Corporate worship makes us stronger. To “hold strong to the confession of our hope, never wavering,” we need to be around (and with) other Christians.
~ God created us for community, for fellowship, for relationship. Being involved in a church is part of that.
2) We gather in community for THEM!
There is a church body that needs my gifts and yours. Without us, things remain unfinished and never accomplished. One way we “inspire each other to greater love and to righteous deeds” is to be around each other on a regular basis. If we are not in community, we are limited in the number of people we can inspire and encourage.
~ Gathering in community gives us the opportunity to use our gifts, to impact others and to minister alongside other believers.
3) We gather in community because the Bible tells us to gather.
Simple put, the Word says, “not forgetting to gather as a community, as some have forgotten, but encouraging each other, especially as the day of His return approaches.”
The NKJV reads, “nor forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some.”
4) We gather in community because God set it up to work that way.
Sure, family time, rest time and “away” time are all good. But those times aren’t meant to last forever.
Whether you’ve been detached from church for weeks, for months or for years now, I want to implore and exhort and encourage you to give it one more chance.
Would You Give it One More Try?
Here’s my challenge – would you give worship in community one more try in 2015?
~ Would you (or you and your family) try attending a church for four weeks?
~ Would you choose a place, get up and go, and give it ONE MONTH with an open heart?
I implore you, encourage you, exhort you and even dare you to try this~
And, if you’re not sure where to start, that’s what “Worship Wednesday” is all about.
Would You Mind Stopping Back by Each Week to Learn About Some Worship Options?
Each week, I will highlight one church, ministry or minister who is doing great things in our community.
As you read about these churches and ministries, you may wish to check them out.
I’m praying that many of you will hope again, trust again, forgive again and get back into the fight one more time.
It may not be easy to get back out there and to open your heart again…
But, we need you, and you just might find that you need us too~
*P.S. — If you have a church, ministry or person to highly recommend, I’d love to hear from you…
~ I regularly link to these AMAZING SITES~
© Melanie Redd and Ministry of Hope, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Melanie Redd and Ministry of Hope with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.