In 2018, on Hermon’s 30th anniversary, each member was given a book. Why Bother With Church is a cheerful-looking little orange book by Sam Allberry. You may still have your copy today.
In Chapter 6, the last chapter, Allberry asks the question: “How should I bother with church?” I thought a recap might be appropriate today.
The chapter reminds us that church is not something we go to but something we belong to. One belongs to a church by being a member of the local church, not just attendees or supporters. You are a member of the body of Christ, and you express that membership by belonging to the body of his local church. Romans 12:5 says, “In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
The chapter then lists seven practical ways how one should bother with church:
- Attending — being committed to regularly participating in church activities and fellowship.
- Involvement — being actively involved in the life of the church; being aware of the needs and issues facing the church.
- Praying — regularly praying for the life of the church.
- Serving — putting the needs of others before our own, using gifts God has given to every member of the body of Christ so that we can serve and help build it up (1 Cor 12:7).
- Giving — expressing our being part of the church by literally investing financially in the work. It is a way of directing our heart, for “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21).
- Submitting — to submit to and honour the leaders God has placed over us (Heb 13:17).
- Devotion — this word sums it all up. In Acts 2, we read that the disciples devoted themselves to being taught, to one another in fellowship, and in fellowship, and in prayer.
To be devoted sounds like hard work. It is. Devotion speaks of giving, and spending ourselves — our time, gifts and emotions — on what we love and believe in.
Some 30 years ago, a fledgling group of 60 or 70 worshippers moved from BBHQ at Ganges Avenue to CCKBC at Chua Chu Kang. They set their hearts on bothering with the church that relocated. They devoted themselves to nurturing new visitors and members. Today, if you are not one of the 60 or 70 but are reading this, you are the product of this devotion. You, too, may already be helping others to settle in as new members.
Then came COVID-19. We probably all agree it is a disruptor of one’s service and ministry. Another disruptor will come when the church relocates (again). Some of us may be pondering over whether we should follow the church when it moves. Here is where we go back to what a church is to you. If a church is something you feel you belong to, not something you just go to, then neither COVID-19 nor relocation should be a main factor for the decision. It is just like when your family relocates — you follow because it’s where you belong.
To nurture belongingness, leaders must remain faithful to the cause of the church. In Acts 2:42,46, we see the early church was the seedling tray for cultivating learning, fellowship and worship. Leaders must also pray together more for the Spirit-led vision and Spirit-empowered church witness “in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the world.”
Members, we too should ask beyond the practical, “How should I bother with church?”, to the basic “Why should I bother with church?”. Perhaps God has not finished his work in us. Perhaps he is showing each person that they should count the worth less than the gain of knowing him and the power of his resurrection, and to press on to reach the goal (Phil. 3:7,10,14).
With a clear church vision and an honest personal mission, instead of asking the question, “Why should I bother with Hermon at Henderson?”, perhaps the simpler question would be, “Why not?”.
– Dn Lee Pang Wee