Coordinator of Outreach & Evangelism
This Christmas everyone in my family received a $50 Walmart gift card from my grandfather. That card opened up a world of possibilities for my 10-year-old cousin. On the way out the door, my uncle gave explicit instructions that we are to spend it “judiciously.” This semester you have a limited amount of time. Your possibilities are nearly endless. My challenge to you is to spend your time judiciously this semester by being a faithful church participant.
Why get involved at church this semester?
Because Jesus Died for the Church.
This summer I had the privilege of preaching through the book of Ephesians at church. Through my study, the Word was reinforcing and strengthening my view of the role of the church in the believer’s life. Growing up in a home with both parents in full-time ministry, it was never a question of, “Are we going to church tonight?” I understood that if the doors were open, we would be inside, khakis, collared shirt, and all. The question I had to work through after four years at BJU was, “Why?” Why do we go to church on Wednesday nights and Sunday nights or even at all?
Over the past couple of years I have come to my conclusions, but Ephesians 2:16 helped me to give proper Biblical support. [He] might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. The church was established through the cross of Christ. In other words, one reason Jesus died was to launch the church. That is the whole idea behind Ephesians 2. God took the people who were once enemies with his people and through the death of Jesus brought them into a new union where enemies would become brothers and sisters. It’s a beautiful picture, but it also has tremendous implications for the believer.
If the blood of Jesus Christ is what established the church, then the church is precious to Him. And if the church is both his possession and precious to Him, then how Christ expects us to be a part of the church is incredibly important. At this point, I don’t think anyone would disagree with what I’ve said, but let’s move it a step further.
Christ died for you to be a part of the church, not so you could get a degree, have a nice job, start a family, have lots of friends, or vacation on a tropical island once a year. Is there anything wrong with any of those? NO! Most people reading this article should have some of those goals. However, none of those are my top priority, and they shouldn’t be yours either. Because the church was instituted through the death of Christ, we must give our lives for the health of the church.
Because our Spiritual Maturity Depends on it.
Flip over to Ephesians 4 and you find that not only are we motivated to love the church because of the sacrifice of Christ, but our spiritual maturity is dependent on church involvement. Paul’s encouragement to us is that we need the leadership that comes through the church to keep us from being tossed around by errant doctrine and philosophy (4:14). College is a time when many students turn away from the biblical truths they grew up hearing, reading, and singing. Could it be that there is a correlation between college students turning from their Bible and the plummeting church attendance from American college students?
There is a danger of living in a bubble. No, not the BJU bubble, but rather the college student bubble. In reality, most students at BJU live in a dorm of college-age students, go to class with college-age students, eat with college-age students, work primarily with college-age students, hang out with college-age students and philosophies with college-age students. College is a unique phase of life, but in its uniqueness, the church is the God-ordained institution to guide you with intergenerational relationships. It’s not always easy or comfortable, but you need the older men and women in your church to guide you into maturity in Christ (4:12-13).
How should I get involved this semester?
The first step to getting involved this semester is to be there! Your presence in a church building can have a tremendous impact. However, don’t stop at your required two services per week. Last semester one of the men at my church in Hendersonville, NC prayed something I will never forget. “Lord, I thank you for these young men that drive all the way up from Greenville to pray with us every week. It’s convicting to think that a lot of us don’t even want to drive across town to be here.” I was blown away at the positive impact we had by merely showing up.
Did you know you are a hero just because you are in college? All it takes is for you to kneel down next to a toddler and take an interest in them for that toddler to feel like the coolest kid in the world. It’s not just kids either. Get to know some of the older men and ladies. A 5-minute conversation before you run off to lunch can make their day. Invest in the life of a teenager. You may be able to connect with them and be the godly influence that answers the prayers of their parents.
Engage your brain!
Every week we should walk into church thinking, “How can I serve this body of Christ today?” You can do this in your own God-gifted ways, but be looking for opportunities. Too many students walk in just before the start of the service, plop down in the back, endure the singing and preaching, and scurry out the back to resume their lives. You have the tremendous potential not only to serve your church but also to enjoy it! This summer we had some very rainy Sundays. Instead of complaining about it, we gathered some teen guys and started what we call our “umbrella ministry.” Engage your mind in looking for opportunities to serve. Small efforts can make a lasting impact.
One of the most significant benefits of being an engaged church member is that you will learn. Certainly, you will learn from the preaching and teaching, but the more significant impact may be the knowledge and insight you gain about the Church and your spiritual condition. If you are here studying to go into ministry, the best training ground is the local church you attend. Your classes will fill you with a lot of knowledge, doctrine, and helpful instruction, but the church is where you will see this in action. Even if you are not planning to be a pastor or a pastor’s wife, the church habits you establish now will likely continue after graduation. Use your college years to learn how you fit in God’s plan for His Church.
I wanted to end with this. I’m sure it’s not original to me, but I tell my teen leaders this all the time, “Saying yes to one thing means saying no to others.” What does that mean for church participation? Saying yes to being at church for you might mean that you don’t get to participate in something on campus you would like to. It might mean you have to give up other hobbies to make some space for the homework you normally would complete during that time. Saying “Yes!” to being social is going to cost you your comfortability at some point. Getting to know people that you have little natural connection with is uncomfortable, but in the church, it is worth it!
So, in a semester with limited time and seemingly unlimited opportunities, how will you choose to invest yours? Don’t just survive another semester. Enjoy it and make it count for Christ by prioritizing church participation.
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.