Vol.XIX No.X Pg.3
December 1982

Church - Building Religion

Dan S. Shipley

Whether through neglect or misunderstanding, it is obvious that too many Christians practice a localized kind of religion; one that is almost entirely limited to the confines of the church building.

Take, for instance, the matter of Bible study. All too often it is restricted to a church-building activity. That may have been excusable back when the scarcity of Bibles was such that copies were chained to lecterns in some church buildings, but hardly in our time. As Bible class teachers well know, too few parents and children use their Bibles at home — even in preparation for class studies. What ever happened to the practice of families gathering around the kitchen table for Bible reading? — or mothers reading Bible stories to their children at bedtime? In the long ago God said that He wanted His words in the hearts of His people and, further, "thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." (Deut. 6:6,7) Getting the word of God into our hearts and into the hearts of our children will take more than an occasional Bible opening at the church building! Brethren, how can we hope to accomplish this great work when so many long-time Christians have never so much as taken the time to learn the books of the Bible, let alone make a personal study of them? It should not be difficult to understand why we are not growing in the faith if our appetite for spiritual food is satisfied at the church-building (1 Pet. 2:2). Equally important is the matter of limiting our praying to the assemblies of the church. Nothing should be more characteristic of the Christian than frequent and fervent prayer. As Paul puts it, "Pray without ceasing" (1 Thes. 5:17), and through James God tells us that "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (5:16). Do we believe it? The Christian's prayer is an expression of his faith. He believes in the God to whom he prays, yet cannot see. He believes God hears and answers his prayers. His prayer is also an expression of humility. He sees God's greatness and his own littleness; his supplications acknowledge his need for help; his thanksgivings express his appreciation for blessings received. I, for one, believe we need more praying in our assemblies. But I believe we need more prayer outside of our assemblies too! Christian, take time out of your busy daily schedule for some quiet moments of prayer. Its one of our greatest blessings.

Yet another problem with church-building religion is the limited association it allows with brethren. Unfortunately, about the only time many Christians see one another is at the meeting house. There are times, of course, when circumstances permit little else. However, many can and need to do better than merely having a brief "foyer fellowship with brethren. Brethren need encouraging, consoling, exhorting, and admonishing. They have burdens we can help to bear, weakness we can help to overcome. But, we must be there — for their sake and ours. When we leave the pew, we still follow Christ.