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I’m going to write a series of advice letters based on true-to-life situations until I get real ones from you. I’d like to see if you will find something to contact with in these “advice” columns.

Dear Martha, When I go to church, I feel like I shouldn’t be there. My life is a mess. I look around me and everyone else looks fine. Their lives look perfect. Their families look perfect. I sit there and feel worse and worse. I realize my marriage is struggling. My kids fight too much. Our home is a mess.  I just can’t keep going on this crazy treadmill that is my life! I wonder what church has to do with the mess my life is right now.     Liz

When I go to church, I feel like I shouldn't be there. My life is a mess and I look around me and everyone else looks fine. Their lives look perfect. Their families look perfect. Click To Tweet

Hi Liz, After serving in churches with my husband for over 40 years, we are now in retirement. I continue to serve in unofficial ways. I can tell you that just because people look nice on Sunday, does not mean their lives are perfect! They may look nice on Sunday, but that tells you nothing about their lives.

Many people come to church because they realize their lives are a mess too. they need a time of worship to take a break from the brokenness of their lives.

Many people come to church because their lives are a mess like yours. They know they need Jesus. They need this time of worship to take a break from the brokenness of their lives.  The worship service where the songs and hymns remind them of who Jesus is bring them comfort and encouragement. They read or sung Scripture, Psalms, and other Biblical truths that encourage them and give them hope to get through another week.

The readings from GOD’s Word encourage them. Prayer from their pastor as well as corporate prayer with their church community encourages them to remember they are not alone. GOD is present and is bigger than the hard things they are facing. They are in a community of believers together. GOD is bigger than all of them and is powerful enough for all that they are facing.

Stopping to encourage others and be encouraged is part of that worship experience…before or after the service. The visiting before and after the service is not simply a social exercise if we are intentional about it. Sometimes, we even have the chance to pray with one another one on one.

Many people come to church because their lives are a mess like yours. They know they need Jesus. They need this time of worship to take a break from the brokenness of their lives. Click To Tweet

Then as they listen to the preaching of GOD’s Word, they are encouraged again…to either move in the positive direction they are going, or to change directions. As they listen to GOD’s Word preached, they learn what GOD has to say to them through their pastor. The preaching of the Word is called a means of grace. It is one way we are strengthened and encouraged to do GOD’s will and be strong against the attacks of Satan and the power of sin.

Another means of grace is the Lord’s supper

Another means of grace that is offered in worship at varying frequencies, depending on the church, is communion or the Lord’s Supper. It is also a way GOD provides for us to be strengthened and encouraged to grow in grace. There is a lot about it that is mysterious. But it is helpful for us. There is much in the worship service that is good for our souls…and builds us up for life in a broken world.

We also have other opportunities to grow: classes, opportunities to serve one another, small groups, smaller groups. It all depends on your particular church.

Depending on your church, there are usually other opportunities for growth: classes are often provided that offer further teaching for you as you explore how to study GOD’s Word; studying specific parts of the Bible; how to reach out into your community; how to love your family/neighbors/children/co-workers better; how to share your faith with them…and multiple opportunities you have for growth with a smaller group of people in your church.

Often there are small groups in your church where you have an opportunity to get to know a small group of people better. They may be a group of families, women, men, or a mixed age group. But here you get to know each other better as you pray together and sometimes study together as well.

There are often opportunities for outreach into your community as well. It’s another way for your family to get to know others and serve your community too. Obviously, you won’t have time to participate in every opportunity your church offers.

But making worship and a few other events priorities are important. How will your children understand the importance of participating in their church if you never attend at a level other than simply visiting?

Have you found a way to be involved at some level? Are you getting to know some of the people that look so perfect as you pass them? If not, you will never hear their stories. You will never find out how the grace of GOD has touched their lives and often brought amazing changes!

Ask questions of the people you meet to hear how GOD has changed them. Tell them what He has started doing in your life even though He hasn’t finished the job. Their story will encourage you. Your story will encourage them.

Hearing the stories of the people I have met in the churches we have served has brought me in touch with the amazing ways of GOD who works even today! He changes marriages. He brings good out of some pretty awful situations. He transforms people who should never have been changed in the ways they were.

But we never hear about it if we don’t make the effort to get to know these people. If we don’t get involved in our local church. It is so worth it. Remember, you have amazing resources available in your church. Ask for help when you need it…from your pastor or other staff members. They may not know the answer to your question, but they can find the resources you need. Most of all, if they point you to Jesus, you know you are in the right place.

Because you will find healing for your broken heart. You will find courage for your scared soul as you join with new friends to pray for hard situations. You will find help for your overwhelmed spirit as you begin step by step to walk by faith with Jesus…intentionally, one step at a time.

And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods
and serve them and worship them,
I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish.

Deuteronomy 8:19

There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,
    nor are there any works like yours.
All the nations you have made shall come
    and worship before you, O Lord,
    and shall glorify your name.
For you are great and do wondrous things;
    you alone are God.
Teach me your way, O Lord,
    that I may walk in your truth;
    unite my heart to fear your name.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
    and I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your steadfast love toward me;
    you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

Psalm 86:8-13

 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places
by the blood of Jesus,

by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain,
that is, through his flesh,

and since we have a great priest over the house of God,

let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,
with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience
and our bodies washed with pure water.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering,
for he who promised is faithful.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,

not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some,
but encouraging one another,
and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:19-25