I grew up in the part of the United States called the Bible Belt where people in casual conversation would ask: “Where do you go to church?” Like church around the Western World, church attendance in the Bible Belt has been in decline; so the question isn’t as common as it used to be.
Here’s an article I recently wrote for the ONE Body Life web page. It was originally posted @ https://www.onebody.life/single-post/2018/04/10/Is-there-a-more-important-question-than-Where-do-you-go-to-church.
So much emphasis among Christians is placed on “going to church.” (Billy Graham even used to tell people, “Attend the church of your choice.”) However, throughout the Bible there is far more emphasis on hearing and obeying the Holy Spirit. In fact the Bible boldly states (in Romans 8:14), “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.”
So perhaps a better question than, “Where do you go to church?” is, “How well do you follow the Spirit?”
What does it mean “to be lead by the Spirit?” It means what it says. It means to keep your attention on the Holy Spirit and then say or do whatever He (yes, the Spirit is a person) tells you to. It means doing what the Spirit prompts us to rather than doing what we want to do (or what other people want us to do).
After the Reformation and Renaissance in Western Europe, Christianity there, for the most part, began to focus on logic instead of spiritual life, reason rather than revival, information instead of transformation, and academics rather than anointing. Pastors were seen as exalted teachers (“reverends”) more than as humble spiritual shepherds, and sought to display their religious logic, reason, information, and academics in front of their congregations through sermons.
The Bible concept of individual Christians being led by the Spirit (rather than by a pastor’s teaching) was somehow was swept aside. Rather than the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit; church affiliation and faithful attendance became the measuring rod for faithfulness to the faith.
Perhaps it is time to bring back the biblical measurements for our faith: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (see Galatians 5:22). These are the characteristics of a person who is being led by the Spirit. Anytime we don’t manifest these characteristics, we are being led by something other than the Holy Spirit; such as human nature, pride, our own desires, religion, self, habit, emotion, peer pressure, society, or demons, etc.
“How well do you follow the Spirit?”
Need help getting in line with the Spirit? Begin to read the Bible for at least 5 minutes everyday, with your heart open to the Spirit.