For many of us, church involvement is intricately tied to our relationship with God. If this is the case, there might not be a relationship at all. While it is good to be involved, our involvement in church should flow out of our relationship and not define it. This is my experience.
I grew up in church, so I knew that as a Christian I needed to be very involved in church. In my younger years, I was present every time the door was open. I even went to Women’s Ministry and participated in the activities. This is defined in church language as “being on fire for God.” Church became my only anchor for God when the family altar broke down and dissipated entirely; when life got so busy, there was no time for personal devotion; and when the distractions of a cell phone and social media took root, until one day God basically said, “Stop what you are doing, and come away with Me for a while.”
This is when I realized that there was no foundation for a relationship. I struggled with two things: Firstly, my conscience screamed that I needed to be involved in order to claim Christianity. Lack of involvement was always defined by the church as “backsliding.” My conscience was shaped and highly influenced by church dogma, even the things I knew that could not be right. My second struggle was sitting alone with an invisible God. I was miserable, impatient, tormented and agitated because I was like, “So, what now?” What felt like an hour of praying was only five minutes in real time. For the first time in my Christian walk I had to face the reality that I had a solid relationship with church, doing all the right things, mastering the church language in public praying and public interaction with fellow brothers and sisters, but there was no solid relationship with God. Outside of church involvement I was lonely, depressed, miserable, tormented and lost.
I could not go back to what I was used to because I was now on a new journey that required me to develop resilience, persistence, patience and a little bit of stick-to-itiveness. It was a hard and difficult road, somewhat like the narrow road the Bible speaks about that few choose to trod. I got a few things right. I started to read a lot. I went through the Bible from cover to cover, and started again, but I struggled because the God I was reading about was much different from the God I was introduced to by “church.” I cried many times while reading, wondering: “Where is this God?” It seems He had changed. Regardless, I no longer wanted the “church God,” I wanted the God of the Bible, so I went after Him with my whole heart.
There is much more that I can share, but you should get the point, so let me draw two conclusions for you for now. Firstly, if you don’t have a relationship with God (and He knows if you do or not), you will hear “I don’t know you.” Secondly, if you preach and teach, stop picking out people and experiences from the Old Testament and try to teach and preach principles. Use the people and experiences of the Bible to go have your own experience, then preach and teach from that. The Bible was written so you may believe that you can have the same experiences and develop the same relationship with God.