One of the annual rites of spring for our family is putting the old pontoon in the water and onto the boatlift at the Atkins family cabin.

Earlier this month some workers placed the dock and boatlift in place on the lake. This past weekend as I went to lower the lift for the boat I discovered the workers placed the lift too close to the dock, so there was no way to raise or lower it. The control wheel was jammed, and the entire lift had to be moved. I tried muscling and budging the massive lift from the dock for twenty minutes with no success.

Finally, I went up to the cabin and asked for help from my wife, Terese and my daughter Alyssa. After we put on our swimsuits, we ventured into the REALLY cold Minnesota lake water and carefully walked out to the boatlift. We agreed on a strategy, and then, shoulder deep in the water, moved the massive heavy structure. Within a few seconds, we were able to position it in the right location. We quickly got out of the water, toweled off, and high-fived each other.

More than just a story about boatlifts, this is also about worshipping God. Together: With other like-hearted followers of Jesus Christ.

We live in times when worship is often referred to only in terms of a “me and God” experience.  While a personal, dynamic worship life with God is essential, it is equally important that we also do life, pray, and get together with other Christians on a regular, weekly basis.

Sometimes we are faced with seemingly unmovable obstacles in our life. Even as we try dealing with them on our own, it’s inevitable we will encounter some challenges that are beyond our own strength. In those times, we will need the strength and love that God provides through our brothers and sisters in Christ to come alongside us and share our load.

There will be other times when someone from our church is in need. At those times we will have the privilege of standing with them and bearing some of their burdens in the name of Jesus. We get to step into the cold waters of difficulties and help them.

Healthy friendships with Christians can be incredibly good and valuable even as they require hard work. We are bonded together by God when we pray, study His Word, share life, and serve together. When it’s all clicking, there is nothing better than God’s church experiencing real worship in a life lived together.

The Scriptures make it clear meeting with other believers is an essential component of a vibrant, healthy worship life with God.

Here’s how the writer of Hebrews put it:

“…and let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,  not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)

I’m not suggesting we should perform some lifeless motions of worship as an obligation or routine.  I’m simply saying that God made us part of something bigger—His Church— so we don’t have to do life alone. God is in the business of forming, molding, and using like-hearted people together to accomplish His incredibly big kingdom plans.

Worshipping with other believers can happen in a church building or with other Christians in non-traditional settings. I know of Christ-followers in different parts of the world who meet at homes or in fields. There are other churches that gather at coffees shops and in restaurants. I’m part of a small Bible Study that meets weekly in a grocery store commissary, and I also lead worship in my home church of nearly 1,000 people.

Perhaps you’ve been hurt or alienated by an experience with a dysfunctional church. I’m sorry to hear that.  I pray that God will bring healing, strength, and discernment so you will connect with a healthy, God-centered, Word-based body of believers. They are out there!

Perhaps you’ve been frustrated by the lack of _______________(fill in the blank) at a previous church.  I know how you feel because I’ve been there too. God keeps gently reminding me of His grace that can change lives and grow His kingdom if I am willing to put down past hurts, expectations, and agendas and simply serve Him wherever He places me.

In our busy lives, it can be hard to find the time to locate the right church. But we’re not alone in this search. God promises He is always with us, so ask Him to lead you to some healthy, God-empowered Christians who gather together in the name of Jesus.

There’s nothing better than God-given worship and healthy life together with other Christians.  We need the Lord and the gift of each other to make our worship one that lasts into eternity.

Last week I wrote to you with a special request:

I wrote an account of a real “God-antenna” encounter that happened to me recently. I entered it in the Faith Radio Christian Writer’s Contest.  I’m asking all my friends to read it and help me by voting for this submission if you like it. The top ten vote-getters will advance to the literary judges, so please tell other people about this. The voting deadline is May 31st, 2015.

Here is the link to my submission, entitled “God’s Grace and A Candy Bar”