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Surprise! How the Church Can Give You Joy

Editor’s Note: In the endeavor of improving our churches, it’s easy to dwell on the negatives. Today, we’d love to hear from you: What is one way your church gives you joy?

As we continue in this series on joy, the next reason the psalmist gives for joy is the people of God: ‘As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.’ These are very strong words, which underline the passion and joy David felt in the people of God.

Church is not meant to be something you come to on a Sunday morning and sit there while other people entertain you.

We are called to delight in the Body of Christ. There is joy in fellowship with the Body of Christ.

You cannot see Jesus, but you can see His representatives on Earth, and in a healthy church, lots of laughter and joy will be on display. There should be multitudes of smiles. If you hire a building, the staff there should say: ‘We love it when you guys are in the building because you are so happy.’

None of this, of course, is to imply that church should be an unreal place where if you are struggling with depression or a hard time you feel you have to plaster on a fake smile. How tragic a picture that is. Sometimes, it can be hard to be around happy people if you are feeling low yourself.

But most people do find that, at least to some extent, their mood can be lifted by being with people who are happier than them, if they allow that to happen.

If you are feeling so low that even the laughter and fun around you can know longer lift you at all, if joy is not infectious in the slightest for you, that may be a sign you need to speak with a medical doctor.

None of what I am saying in this series is meant to imply that joy is an easy thing, that all people who are depressed need to do is “pull themselves together,” and that hanging around with God’s people will automatically make you happy! But there is no doubt at all that a lonely person is much more likely to be a sad person, and we were never meant to be alone.

It is very possible to be alone in a crowd, even in a good church. Some people go week after week and may even complain “nobody spoke to me”; the truth is that if you arrive after the service has started and leave during the last song, you aren’t giving anyone a chance to talk to you! Please don’t wait for people to talk to you; take the initiative and go and talk to them.

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Adrian Warnock is a medical doctor who worked in the UK's NHS as a psychiatrist. He then worked in the pharmaceutical industry helping to run the clinical trials that bring us new medicines, and communicate the results. Adrian is author of Hope Reborn and Raised with Christ and has written a Christian blog since 2003 at Patheos. He has been a member of Jubilee Church London since 1995 where he served on the leadership team for more than a decade. Adrian was diagnosed with blood cancer in May 2017. He is the founder of Blood Cancer Uncensored and is passionate about helping people learn to approach suffering with hope and compassion.