What on Earth is the Church For?

"It is strange to decide to follow, serve and worship Jesus, and then to have nothing to do with the other members of His family."

"Church is a school for sinners, not a rest home for saints."

It’s often said “You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian”. Up to a point this is true. However it is strange to decide to follow, serve and worship Jesus, and then to have nothing to do with the other members of His family.

Moreover, we need the help of others on the same journey. Being a Christian is the biggest challenge of your life. Don’t believe anyone who says it is easy; wonderful, yes; tough, yes; exhilarating, yes; but not easy. We need company for that journey. You will be welcome at any Church of England church. You don’t have to belong, or sign up, or even believe. We are used to visitors, and everyone is welcome whatever their reason for coming.

What is it that puts so many off church? Some say it is hypocrisy. Now the word ‘hypocrisy’ is applied to two very different things. One is to aim high, and then fail to achieve it. On this interpretation every Olympic athlete who fails to clear the high jump is a hypocrite. This is plainly nonsense. Very often though when Christians are accused of being hypocrites, this is what is meant. We all fall short, but with God’s help we aim higher. Church is a school for sinners, not a rest home for saints.

However there is another, more accurate and more serious use of the term ‘hypocrite’. It means to deliberately put on a mask, to try to appear better than you are. We all do this to some extent, but healthy churches help the masks to come off, and free us to be who we are, because God loves us as we are. Sadly churches sometimes attract just the sort of person who wants to put on a ‘righteous mask’. Jesus had great trouble with religious hypocrites like these, and said so. They crucified Him for it.

I have many times heard people say, after their first or second visit ‘your church is not like I imagined church to be’, and then make some favourable comment. I now realise that nearly every congregation regularly hears such remarks. There seems to be an image ‘out there’, based on worst cases, that does not accord with the reality.

So why not give church a ‘go’? You too might be pleasantly surprised. If reading these pages has made you ask questions about Christian faith, there is no better way of exploring those questions than in the company of others. Many churches run courses for seekers, enquirers and beginners, (click on What is a Christian? for details of some of them)

You can find your local Church of England church by clicking on www.achurchnearyou.com

There are plenty of non Church of England churches. These can be found at www.findachurch.co.uk  The Church of England does not claim to be the one true church, just one church among many, and we wish you well wherever you look.

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Then afterward
    I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    your old men shall dream dreams,
    and your young men shall see visions.

Joel 2:28

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