And start being the Church.
There is a consumerist mentality in America that has permeated attitudes toward churches. People “shop around” for just the right church, like they shop around for the best deal on the best-fitting pair of shoes. I’ve seen it for years, in the various types and sizes of churches I have served over the decades. People look for churches with the best stage show, the most dynamic preacher, the most rousing worship, the most attentive children’s or student programs, the most expansive recreation programs, etc. The “Me” generation has come to the point where a typical family may attend a worship service at one church, attend mid-week or summer children’s programs at another, join a couple’s small group at still another, and sign their kids up for summer ball at yet another. It’s like the buffet line at the local restaurant- pick and choose what suits you best.
Yet that approach is found nowhere in the Bible. Scripture describes the church as the “Body of Christ“, the “fellowship of the saints”, the “family of God.” These, and other descriptors, imply active participation, vital involvement, intimate interaction. In fact, Luke in the Book of Acts describes the activity of being in the church-
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer…the believers were together and had everything in common…praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” -Acts 2:42-47
Craig Groeschel of LifeChurch.tv puts it this way- “We are to be spiritual contributors, not spiritual consumers.” Romans 12:3-8 describes the Church as the Body of Christ, with each member essential and valued, each member vital to the whole. Life in the Body is not a spectator sport. Every member is to be an active participant, at some level. Each has a role to play, a purpose to fulfill. Just as the human body functions best when all parts are healthy and working together properly, so it is with the Church of God.
Ross Parsley in his book, “Messy Church” declares, “Church is first and foremost a spiritual family, and not a corporation or a nonprofit organization.” He explains, “We gather together, as a family gathers for a meal.” Think family reunion, with all of the glorious insanity of a multi-generational gathering at grandma’s house. It can get crazy, but it’s family. Your family.
So it’s time we stop going to church, and start being the Church. That is the model set forth in Scripture, and that is the model God will use to reach this world for Him.
The Church has left the building…