I have been fortunate to have attended lots of great churches. I’ve met a lot of great people. I like to think of my church family not as members of one particular church; rather, as many believers I’ve met throughout the years. The body of Christ does not refer to one organization, one church or one town; instead, it includes all followers. I have been blessed to make lots of solid friendships with people. When I got married most of our guest were either our actual family, or members of our church family. When my husbandand I moved out on our own, our family and extended church family was there. When I decided to become a teacher, I talked to a lot of great teachers I know from church. They gave me solid advice and commended me for wanting to teach high school. When I looked at my closet and realized I dress like I’m still 21, it was a church friend who offered to give me a more conservative wardrobe out of stuff she can no longer use.
I am not egocentric enough to tell you my faith is the only way to spiritual growth. I believe my agnostic mother has more depth and underst ing of self-actualization than I ever will. But for those of you who identify with a religion, I urge get involved within a religious organization. If you are seeking spirituality from a televangelist or a long list of devotionals and self-help books you are only experiencing a shade of what religion can be. People were made for community. It’s important to be within a group of likeminded individuals that can work together to gain spiritual growth.
I attend a neighborhood group and lead a T-group at my local church. Both of these were so critical in my spiritual walk. I was able to read the entire bible my last year of college. I grew more in that year than I had in my 22 prior years. I believe in going to church and benefiting from the message. But to truly grow you have to open the pages and read it for yourself. I think of people who criticize the bible. They talk about inconsistencies and logical errors. I ask them, “have you read all of it?” Most of the time the answer is no. I find that when most people say they have a problem with the bible the truth is they have a problem with how it was taught to them. Preachers have a tough job and none of them are perfect. But, there is a problem when a preacher cherry picks a few versus to support a position instead of reading an entire story to see how it applies to life.
Even if you go up to church every time the doors are open you will never experience everything religion can be if you don’t read the bible for yourself. Devotionals, Study Guides, Christian literature are all great but you are essentially reading bible commentary and not exploring the word yourself to learn directly from God. I mentioned earlier that I lead a T-group that is essentially a same sex only bible study and accountability group. I found that what I get from the reading does not matter. I can talk at my group all day about the insight to God I gained from the reading, and it does nothing for my group. My job is simply to facilitate a conversation about the reading so they can grow. It’s tempting to think that teaching is done by sharing your own perspective and insight. The truth is that learning is done by the individual and teachers are simply a guide.