Every now and then, someone will ask you this question, when they mean to know whether or not you attend or belong to an approved Church. It usually follows a discussion on faith or religion, or in some cases, interrupts a budding discussion, because the person asking is trying to determine if you are worthy of listening to or whether they need to filter what you are saying, so that they are not deceived. I could be wrong, but I rarely find this question helpful in discussions with other Christians.
It could be that the reason for the question is not to determine if one is peddling false doctrine, but to discover common ground in understanding and practice of Christianity. However, I feel the problem lies with the question itself, and actually suggests a lack of understanding of Christianity in the person who asks the question. As one who has been asked this question often, I’ve come to resent it and I feel a need to clarify why it may not be needed at all in a dialogue with another Believer.
1. The question of where is irrelevant, incorrect and confusing
It really doesn’t matter where you worship, and that is not really what the enquirer wants to know. Where signifies a location. It could be in Lekki or Lagos, Paris or Dubai, my house or the town hall. It can even be online. The truth is God can be and is worshiped everywhere, and He doesn’t also “go to” a Church building to meet with you.
Jesus was also faced with a similar question about the appropriate place of worship from a Samaritan woman, and I found His response enlightening. He said “…believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit; and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:21-24).
2. It is more important whether or not one has fellowship with other Believers
The correct question to ask is “Do you fellowship with other Believers?” or “Are you part of a Christian fellowship?” This is a great question to ask, because it gets to the heart of the matter. You are acknowledging that Christians ought to have fellowship with other Christians, which is sound biblical doctrine (Heb 10:25). You are also expressing a genuine interest in whether this Believer is part of any fellowship, and/or if they would like to be part of your fellowship. This question can be answered honestly by any Believer.
The right answer also may not be to name a registered Church. They can fellowship at another Believer’s home, as the early disciples did. They can live with and have continual fellowship with other Christians, so that they actually don’t need to go a particular Church building to meet and fellowship with other Believers. Or they can be part of a big fellowship that meets in a particular Church building regularly. The main thing is that they are not disconnected from the Body of Christ.
3. It doesn’t address the real issue the person asking wants to know
The real question the person asking wants to know the answer to is “Which Church do you belong to?” This question is usually asked by those who understand that worship is not limited to a location nor a time, but can and is done any and everywhere, at any time, and is actually a part of one’s lifestyle. You can either come right out with the question, or follow on with it, after first asking if the person is part of a fellowship.
The better question would actually be “Which fellowship are you a part of?” This acknowledges the distinction between a fellowship and its place of meeting (not worship). It also recognises that the Church is One, and to ask which Church could be ambiguous. When you ask the correct question, you are more likely to get the answer you are looking for, without causing people to wonder what you actually mean.
Of course, if the person you are asking thinks just like you, they might have no issue with your question “Where do you worship?” or “Which Church do you belong to?” However, I am rarely asked that question by someone who agrees with me. It is usually from someone who has or is contending with me on an issue, and the question comes across like a test, which I inevitably fail, because my immediate response is not to name a recognized Church.
Sometimes, I do mention the Church I attend, just to let the question pass, and other times, I feel a need to challenge the question and its premise. Though I attend Church, I am not a member of any visible body or fellowship. I would happily join one, if I didn’t have to subscribe to all the doctrines they profess to believe in in order to qualify for membership. Thankfully, their affirmation or rejection neither confirms nor denies my membership in the Body of Christ.
One of the chief doctrines, which is probably the root of the others, is that the Bible is infallible. I have said my piece on that doctrine, and also expressed my mind on a few others on this blog. As much as I am able to have fellowship with other Believers, I seek to. I am, however, more concerned about who, how and why they worship, than where they fellowship.
I had to change my mind about Church recently, and appreciate the many ways I currently enjoy fellowship with other Believers, even if it isn’t by regular participation in a visible congregation. The Holy Spirit is not limited by space nor time. I don’t need to go to any Church building at any particular time to hear the Word and be fed. I am fed daily as I read the Word online through the many Christians blogs I follow and have personal study and communion with God, which inspires me to write. The Spirit of God teaches me all things, as I discern truth from error and grow in His grace.
Here is a poem I wrote long ago about true worship that I feel is appropriate to share now. It was published in the Bulletin of the Church I attended at the time.
Worship is not something one picks in Church
And leaves at the door on the way out.
It is not the singing of songs, nor the clapping of hands
But the perpetual awe of God none should be found without…
The fear of God is indeed the beginning of wisdom.
Worship happens where fear meets love…
Taken by His awesomeness, we lie in wonder,
For His mercy towards men, our praise is never enough…
In worship, our weakness is ever before us
But our gaze is stayed on Christ our Saviour.
In our goings and comings, let us abide in worship,
Manifesting our love for God in kindness towards our neighbour…
Photo credit: http://www.d6family.org
If you liked this post, you might like CHANGE YOUR MIND ABOUT CHURCH
Are you blessed by this ministry? Why not partner with me?