Women’s Bible Study Isn’t Actually Church ……{and neither are any other programs}

by GfG on December 2, 2014 · 1 comment

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I have attended a women’s Bible study for years.  Many years.  Eighteen years, to be exact.  They have ranged in size, organization, emphasis, and study style.  I would even say that the first women’s Bible studies I attended are where God drew me to deeper fellowship, study, and commitment to His Word.  And these studies have left permanent, beautiful marks on my heart.

But I knew that they weren’t church.

They were fellowship, they were precious, they were equipping.

Some of them were actual programs of a local church, some of them were just friends that chose a book to study together, and some of them were national programs.

To say that I am a huge fan of Bible study would be an understatement.  I am also a fan of women’s Bible study.

I am also a fan of men’s Bible studies, of equipping programs, of AWANAs, of Scripture memory groups, of book groups, Sunday School, and all manner of study of Scripture. All of these are fantastic programs that enhance our lives and our walk with Christ.

But these programs  are not church.

I am frustrated by a trend where people treat programs like church.  For example, a woman’s faithful attendance at a local church’s Bible study outreach is a fantastic way to introduce her to Christ, the Scripture, the Body of Christ, and living out the faith, but it is not supposed to be the only way she connects to Christians.  It should not be “her church”.

Church is for God’s people.  It is where we love one another, we grow with and for one another, we worship, we are encouraged, equipped, taught, challenged, disciplined, and led.  We submit to this local church body and we commit to it.

Bible Study isn't Church

It is our family.

A church may have many outreaches and may have programs for its members, but neither of those are the church.

When we, as Christians, refuse to engage with a local church, but instead attend outreaches and make them our “home”, then we are denying God’s plan.  He calls the Church His Bride.  What an amazing honor.  What a privilege.  What a responsibility.

We don’t reflect all that it means when we only interact with a specific program.  When we refuse to attend worship.  When we are only friends with those who go to the outreach where we  “fit in well”.

No, brothers and sisters, don’t dishonor the Church by calling or by treating a program as a church.

  • Is the Word faithfully preached by a godly man?
  • Are there elders?
  • Have you willingly submitted to the elders as your authorities?
  • Is there corporate worship?
  • Is the doctrine based on Scriptures?
  • Are there baptisms, weddings, and communion?
  • Is there intentional teaching, prayer, provision and equipping for all members?
  • May visitors hear the Gospel and be invited to fellowship?

If you couldn’t answer yes to all of these, then it’s probably a program, not a church.  Which is fine, as long as you don’t neglect the biblical call to faithfully attend and engage with a local church.  There is a time and place for programs, but they are a small part of the picture of what church is.

Are you scared to engage with a local church because there could be hypocrites there?  Sure there are. There are people.  We are all sinners, so don’t expect perfection.  Look for saints growing in grace and truth.

Are you independent and so you think you don’t need to attend church?  Don’t be fooled.  Pride goeth before a fall, after all.  Besides, the New Testament is chock full of instructions, admonishments, encouragments, blessings, and more.. for the local church.

Are you too busy to attend a local church, but can fit a program into your schedule?  Then I dare say you are too busy.  Beautiful, grace filled, Bible preaching churches offer varying worship times that can fit into nearly any schedule.  Work it out because Christ tells you to.

Are you just too lazy to engage with a local church?  Well, that’s admirable of you to admit, but it’s still sin.  Get up on Sunday and go worship. Figure out how to participate and interact.  If you are a Christian, this is your call.

Yes, yes, there are seasons and extinuating circumstances for not consistently attending church.  There are.  Health conditions and special needs surely fit that category.  Hear me clearly, that’s not what I am talking about.  I’m talking about making a program into “church”.

Church.. meaning the community of Christians around the world as well as specific groups of local Christians that commit to one another…. is amazing.

You are the Bride of Christ.  A bride participates prepares for her groom, she desires to look her best for Him, and she looks forward to the wedding, engaging in every aspect of it.  A flower girl, on the other hand, is just a small part of the picture and her entire goal is to highlight the bride.

Church is the Bride.  Programs aren’t.

Be the bride, not the flower girl.

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