"The church should stop mimicking the surrounding culture and become an alternative community, with a different set of beliefs, values and behaviors. Ministers would no longer engage in marketing; churches would no longer place primary emphasis on programs to serve members. The traditional ways of evaluating 'successful churches' - bigger buildings, more people, bigger budgets, larger ministerial staff, new and more programs to serve members - would be rejected. New yardsticks would be the norm:To what extent is our church a 'sent' community in which each believer is reaching out to his community? To what extent is our church impacting the community with a Christian message that challenges the values of our secular society?"
Would your community be any different if your church was gone? I think for most churches the answer is no. Nothing would be different about their communities if their church closed it's doors. How sad is that? We aren't going out into our communities and making a different. We stay on one side of the door and say "Church is just something we do on Sunday."
SCARY! Has church become something that we just DO on Sunday? How often do we say "I'm going to Church" "We are DOING church" or "We are having church"? When did the church become a place or an activity? Have we forgotten that we ARE the church? Don't GO to church. Don't DO church. BE the church!
So how do we start to BE the church?
I say read Acts. There are two churches and both of them are great examples of missional churches. People who had a great love for God and a great passion of being sent. Here is one thing that might get a few people a bit frustrated with me...
The Church should gather and scatter:
The church in Acts did not make their gatherings for non believers. Acts 2:42-47 "They spent their time learning the apostles' teaching, sharing, breaking bread, and praying together. The apostles were doing many miracles and signs, and everyone felt great respect for God. All the believer were together and shared everything. They would sell their land and the things they owned and then divide the money and give it to anyone who needed it. The believers met together in the Temple every day. They ate together in their homes, happy to share their good with joyful hearts. They praised God and were liked by all the people. Every day the Lord added those who were being saved to the group of believers."
Now here is how I feel. Getting together was much more about spending time with one another. Encouraging one another. Sharing lives. What happened to that? We now only go to church on Sunday hardly see anyone during the week and we don't encourage each other in our relationship with God. We can go weeks or months or even years before anyone challanges us to become closer to God. Many times it's not even someone in your own community of believers. Many times it's someone at a conference or camp maybe. We have taken our meetings on Sunday and made them to be outreaches to those who aren't believers and we often forget about those who already believe. Many times we wonder why people leave the church...sometimes it's over petty stuff...but sometimes it's because they have "lost" their faith. Do we forget to encourage and challenge each other in our faith. I think we have lost that BIG time.
When I had mentioned that writing this blog wasn't easy on facebook a friend made a comment that we as Christians fail big time in the first commandment. That we can't have impact without intimacy. Mark 12:30 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength." I agree with him. We are failing big time in this area. Can you imagine what your marriage would be like if you had no intimacy? What would happen if you never spent anytime with your husband? What would happen if you barely talked to him...and mainly only talked to him when something was going wrong? We would never think of doing that, but then that is how we treat God. We only go to him when things are wrong. We spend minimal time with Him and often we keep strict time lengths on the time we do spend with Him. 30 mins in the morning. 10 minutes before bed. Does any of this ring a bell? I know I am guilty of it.
My suggestion is that we try to be much more of a community. If that means we should sell all we have and pool everything together or just being more of a community of believers who meet more than just Sunday and really encourage and challenge each other to become closer to God. Whatever it is...something needs to be done. We do not act as a church. We act more like the bickering people in Acts. Why can't we see the need for a church that acts like the church? For a church that truly is the people and not the building. A church that is passionate for God. Loves God madly. A church that gathers to encourage one another and then scatters to impact those around them.