On Sunday, February 11, Meredith Lewanowicz shared a testimony about how she had come to realize that membership in a local church was so important to her walk with the Lord. We hope that her words continue to inspire and encourage you this week.
I joined KingsWay almost a year ago, in June 2017, after being a long time attender since coming with my family when I was a little kid. KingsWay is really the only church I remember attending, so by the time I was old enough to become a member myself, it would have been the simplest choice just to stay here.
For a while as a young adult, I was a bit weighed down and distracted by spiritual battles with doubt. I remember noticing on the drive to church in certain seasons, that I didn’t feel much enthusiasm for going to church. Part of this was a very sensitive spirit, coupled with a fear of hearing something from the Bible that would make my doubt worse. I didn’t realize that in the midst of being a bit anxious about church, the best place for me to be was in the community of believers, under good teaching. God used, and still uses, the community, teaching, and prayer here to help me grow in my understanding of Him, and that has been one of the biggest blessings of being here every week for as long as I can remember. It is not a given that every Christian grows up under sound teaching.
As a side note, to the kids that are listening right now, and have no choice but to come to church because of your parents: You might feel like you’re here just because you have to be, but know that growing up under Biblical teaching and Christian community is God’s grace to you personally, even if you don’t understand that yet.
Over the last year and a half, a number of young adults and good friends joined the church. As a result of this, I started to think about joining the church myself. Suddenly, I felt like I was rethinking my whole life. My question wasn’t about whether I should join a church at all, but whether I should stay here at KingsWay, or whether God had another church family He wanted me to join. After a bit of over-analyzing-—something I am prone to—the question turned to, “why would I go anywhere else?”
At KingsWay, I had established friendships and a long history with KingsWay. More than that, I knew that the people and teaching at KingsWay were both sound and genuine. Not only did I not have to be concerned about errant teaching, but I also knew that this was a community of believers committed to loving each other and helping each other grow through practical care. There was little reason for me to sit around and not commit. I wanted to stay at KingsWay, so why not join?
In this day and age, we feel comforted by the idea of an easy out, i.e. “If I’m uncomfortable, I can leave as quickly and easily as I want.” However, as I consider my personal history, I realize that if I had just stopped attending during that difficult season, I would not have experienced the grace God had provided for me through His Word and His people. Moreover, consider the history of KingsWay itself: Given the trials we have walked through, I believe it was the grace of God through committed believers that allowed us to still be here today. Commitment allows us to experience God’s grace through others, and to be a means of God’s grace for others.
In closing, I want to share what God helped me realize just recently: church membership is not complicated in and of itself. Church membership equals commitment. Commitment to a local body of believers, to love each other by encouraging, praying, speaking the truth (whether that’s exhortation or rebuke) in love, and thereby helping each other grow in our relationship with God together. It’s not an intimidating contract, but a commitment.
If the church is to be recognized by our love for one another, then we have to be committed to each other. After all, as a Christian, church isn’t primarily something you do or go to, it is something you are—something you’ve been brought into by God Himself. When you are united to Christ, you are united to His people. How then can we live uncommitted to the body we are a part of? As Ephesians 4:4 says, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—”
Lastly, if you struggle with the idea of joining a church, perhaps because you’ve been burned by past church experiences, first of all, I commend you for being here even as an attender. That is a significant step. But I want to encourage you to remember this: when we commit to one another as the church, that is not the same as putting our hope in the church. If you put your hope in the church and church members, you will be disappointed. Your hope is to look to Christ, because HE will not disappoint. I realize that God might not lead every attender here to membership at this church, but what I think is important is commitment to the church He calls you to. Just ask Him to lead you and give you a heart to commit to His people wherever He leads.