What is a church service? And my experiences as a church hopper
The first time I ever prayed with someone to believe in Jesus Christ by faith I was working in the corporate world in the city. I had no time for anything really and was working 12 hour days many times. As I was walking through the city leaving work through the crowds, a European man with a thick accent was handing out pieces of paper with information about Jesus Christ on them, and trying to initiate conversations with people. Nobody seemed interested in talking to this man, and people seemed to just charge through and dismiss him as nobody worth acknowledging. For some reason I felt compelled to talk with him and I asked him about what he was doing, he then told me about Jesus Christ and gave me a gospel tract explaining Jesus and salvation. He then led me in prayer and I publicly acknowledged Jesus Christ as my savior who died on the cross for my sins. I took a gospel tract and a Bible and thanked the man for the experience. As I remember that day, I remembered feeling something pleasant falling upon me when I acknowledged Jesus as my savior on that street corner. I definitely felt an invisible force come upon my head and some kind of divine peace come upon me at that moment, I shrugged this experience aside and began walking through the city back home. Years later I would recall this experience and would understand that invisible force was the Holy Spirit coming upon me, and sealing me with an invisible stamp that would grant me access to Heaven in the next life. It was at this moment that I got saved, and I didn’t get saved in a church building, I got saved on a street corner by a man handing out pamphlets and talking to people about Jesus. The city was a cold place and full of cold hearted people, and I felt because this man wanted to talk to strangers (something that was rare in the city), that maybe he was worth talking to, maybe he had something worthy to say. As I look back to this moment, I am really glad I stopped to talk with him.
Due to my work and being so busy I had little time to explore the world of Christianity and the Bible. Some time later, I had other friends who shared Jesus Christ with me, and I also watched an inspiring life after death experience testimony, that really got me interested in Jesus and the Bible. It was at this time, I quit my high paying corporate job and started studying the Bible, and seeking further answers about Jesus Christ and the spiritual world surrounding Him.
I began attending church services all over the city I was living in, I would sometimes attend three or more church services a weekend. Everyone else was attending church services, so I figured this was what it was all about. I also had another friend who was a serial church hopper, and I would see this guy at various church services all over the city. He also told me that he sometimes attended over three church services a day. I guess when you see everyone else attending church services, then thats what you think Christianity is all about. I figured if I attended more church services than everyone else, then I would be a better Christian than everyone else. This was my mentality at the time.
In the past I had also met a really good friend who was an elderly homeless man, he was an amazing guy, and just had a real zeal for life. I remember when I spent time with this guy, life felt like it was worth living. I had never met anyone before in my life, who had such a passion for life. He touched lives wherever he went, and he stopped a number of people from commiting suicide on a number of occasions. I recall one businessman saying that he would not commit suicide, because this homeless man had showed him that there was a reason to keep living. This homeless man also met the Prime Minister of Australia, after the PM was informed of the good deeds this homeless man was doing in the community. Very few human beings had lived the life this homeless man had lived, and many were shocked to hear that he was homeless. I remember when I first met this homeless man, he was reciting poetry at 10pm amongst drug dealers and prostitutes, and I started talking to him and could not leave his presence. He had a magnetic and supernatural aura surrounding him, and I simply did not want to leave him. It was almost like this guy was from another dimension or another planet, he even looked like someone who could be royalty, and I was also surprised to hear that he was homeless. Even though he was homeless, he managed to stay well groomed, with choice clothes he discovered at the salvation army clothing store. I became good friends with this homeless man and we spent much time together, unfortunately we grew apart and I stopped seeing him on a regular basis and we grew distant. I stopped seeing this homeless man regularly, because I was now attending multiple church services throughout the week, and I had no time for him. I was pursuing my goal of becoming Christian of the year by attending as many church services as I could. You know what happened… years later… I found out this homeless man was actually Jesus Christ Himself in disguise, and I was too busy attending church services to spend time with him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I should have known this guy was Jesus Christ, because he was so damn awesome. When I first met this guy, I thought to myself, there is something about this guy, I just can’t put my finger on it! I guess God had hidden himself from me purposely to teach me a lesson. Attending church services had actually dragged me away from Jesus Christ. I remember this homeless man had actually asked me for a favor, but I never helped him with that favor, because I was just too busy attending church services. The Holy Spirit has spoken to me very clearly and audibly in the past, and I remember the Lord reminded me of how Jesus asked me for help (in the form of a homeless man), but I never helped him, because I was too busy attending church services. When I was reminded of this..I almost felt like killing myself…and I wanted to just scream.. well you know what.. I actually did scream! How could I have not known this guy was Jesus Christ? All the signs were there, I knew he was definitely the most amazing person I ever met in my life, but I just didn’t realize he was Jesus until it was too late. I guess it was a lesson in humility and just a deep lesson about life. The lessons and truths of this story are too deep to explore, but when attending church services takes you away from your true savior, it really makes you evaluate your current perspective on faith and Christianity in general. As I recall how I got saved by a humble street preacher, and how I met a homeless man who was actually Jesus Christ in disguise, I started to realize what true Christianity really is. True Christianity is about reaching out to the lost in a dark world, and it’s about helping those in need and finding treasures in the poorest of places. Christianity is not about sitting down and listening to sermons, it’s about being a living sermon that act’s out the scriptures, instead of just listening to sermons or regurgitating them. “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)
Often we hear the phrase, “church service.” What exactly is a service? Google dictionary defines the word ‘service’ as, “the action of helping or doing work for someone.” Is sitting down for one or two hours and listening to a Bible message a service? No it’s not. The current trend of attending a church building and listening to a sermon is not a service, if you compare it to the basic definition in the dictionary.
If we really want to understand what a church service is, we should consider the words of Jesus Christ and how he interacted with his church members. “The Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.” (Luke 10:1-3) If we consider the words of Jesus, a church service is correctly defined as going amongst the wolves and shining your light in the darkness. As I remember the street preacher and street missionary who reached out to me with the gospel, this reminds me of what a genuine church service is. A genuine “service” to God, is about going forth and shining truth on people who are lost in darkness. A service is not preaching to the choir. A service to God is about sowing and reaping on untouched soil, it’s about going forth and witnessing to the wolves and untamed. A service to God is also about helping the unloved and providing food and shelter to those who hunger and thirst. “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction.” (James 1:27)
As I think back to my church hopping days, and how I attended multiple church services and Bible studies, I remember that I was a real asshole. I had really lost the point of what Christianity was, and was caught up in the Christian competition circles, and would be gossiping about other Christians and just thinking I was better than everyone else, because I attended more services than other people and had all this head knowledge and information. In the end, I had completely missed the point of Christianity, and also did not recognize Jesus Christ when he came to me. Laziness produces slothful monsters, and I was a slothful monster. When all you do is sit down and listen to church sermons all week, you become self focused, and all you care about is what people think about you or how you can become better than others. You fall into this worldly competition mentality that is all too familiar in today’s modern church. But if you spend more time actually doing a real service to God, by helping those in need and sharing the gospel message in places where no Christian has ever tread, then the focus begins to leave yourself and you start focusing on loving others, and this is when the light of Christ really shines through you, and all that worldliness that is all too familiar in the church starts to disappear as well. By reaching out to the homeless and loving the unloved, you also bring yourself closer to Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, and have a much better chance at meeting Jesus Himself than you would by going to hear a sermon. “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (Hebrews 13:2)