A place of writing and reflection…
“So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another”
Most of us have heard of the term ‘church‘ at one point in our lives. If not for you then here’s a first.
When you hear the word what’s the first thing that pops into your mind?
Is it a building? People? Denominations (different sects or branches)?
This dictionary defines ‘church‘ as the following:
“A building for public Christian worship. Public worship of God or a religious service in such a building. Any division of this body (Christian believers) professing the same creed and acknowledging the same ecclesiastical authority; denomination. The part of the whole Christian body, or of a particular denomination, belonging to the same city, country, nation, etc.“
Woah! Woah! Woah!
One: thats a little more complicated than necessary and two: why does does it all refer back to a building? Or a specific people group?
The Bible itself does not define the church solely as a building, or only as individual local church groups or bodies.
Carm.org sums it up this way:
“The word ‘church‘ comes from the Greek ‘ekklesia‘ which means ‘gathering‘ or ‘assembly.’ Therefore, the church is the gathering of the believers who come together to participate in fellowship with one another as they worship God and hear from His Word, the Bible. The church as a whole has been equipped with people possessing different spiritual gifts (Romans. 12:5-8). The purpose of the gifts is ‘for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ,’ (Ephesians. 4:12-13).
The Christian church was founded by Jesus and He is its Head and Savior (Col. 1:18; Ephesians. 5:23). Being in the church, the Christian is subject to the Lordship of Jesus (Ephesians. 5:24) through the administration of the Word of God.”
By this, the church is Christ’s following as a whole in order to teach and to train one another to stand strong in their faith. It is also ‘missional‘ in the sense that the church has a ‘mission‘ to spread the word—kind of like an agent is given a ‘mission‘ to spread the word like in some popular spy movies—only without all the secrecy. Thus the ‘church‘ is a sort of…training ground.
However in many churches, we spend most of our time sitting and listening to messages and sermons of which we get very little out of. We see wayward leadership in some, that trains in the wrong things, or not enough in the right things. Then you have other churches that actor so much to people’s wants that it just becomes a hang out or baby sitting service with a coffee shop and game room thrown in. It’s more about our comfort than it is about training.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many major local churches doing quite well in training believers even with their coffee shops and child care services. But it shouldn’t stop there.
Church is so much more than this, and if we could just get it that would be great!
I know here in America we’re the biggest culprits about comfort in our churches. It’s common practice for people pick their ‘church‘ based on what services (child care, youth groups, food, etc.) are provided. When things get ugly, we simply move on to find a new one that will bring us the same—if not better—level of comfort the last one did. Some leave the church completely due to wounds and hurts leaders and other ‘church‘ members did them in the past and eventually develop a deep bitterness toward the ‘church‘.
Perhaps this happened to you. It did to me. But I couldn’t let bitterness control me. It’s kind of like a job—you didn’t get to pick who you work with, but you can choose how you work with them.
If you have left a church recently, don’t give up. Find one that teaches the Word (the Bible) true to itself and not agendas. Seek out people you trust (not just peers) who are strong leaders in it and listen to what they have to pour into your life—and don’t forget to walk it out. We often hear the term, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink“. You can be lead to church after church and get nothing out of it if you don’t take a drink.
The ‘church‘ is about action. Remember it’s about training to send people on their ‘mission‘ to spread the Good News and to strengthen them in how to do so. No more sitting on our hands wondering what the church is going to profit us.
Copyright The Faithbook 2012
Photo courtesy of sxc.hu. Video courtesy of VergeNetwork on Youtube.