I started running in 2007 after not doing any regular exercise for years (and I really needed to lose a few pounds too)! I signed myself up for the Dublin Marathon. Many hours were spent running alone, plodding the streets and canal paths around Salford and Manchester. It was lonely, relentless, boring, and very hard work but somehow I managed to finish the 26.2miles.
I had planned to continue running but I lost motivation and unsurprisingly the pounds quickly found their way back on! Stupidly, I repeated this exact same process 2 years later.
In 2011 I had had enough of this pattern – I signed up to do the Brighton Marathon in April 2012 and thankfully managed to break the cycle. This was all due to joining a running club.
The running club was friendly and running with others was so much more enjoyable than doing it by myself. There was a mixture of keen young runners, some very fit people who had been running for years and a few people like me.
A strange thing began to happen to me - I actually began to enjoy running. I felt supported and encouraged as many of the club members gave advice and tips that they had picked up in their experience. To be included in a community with a common purpose was exciting and I have improved my running far beyond what I thought was possible.
The bible makes it clear that we are not supposed to live out our Christian faith alone, but in community. God has so much more for us than slogging it out by ourselves and he not only sent His son to die for us as individuals but also His bride – the church.
The apostle Paul says “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”*
Is it possible to be a Christian without being part of a church? Possibly, yes. But if you want to grow more as a Christian, being encouraged, supported, challenged and be more effective in being the person God has called you to be, why would you try and do it alone?
*Hebrews 10 v 25
[Originally published Feb 2013]