Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Stop Going To Church

Yep, you heard me correctly - I was not stuttering or misspelling. I want you to STOP going to church. Going to church is like going to a baseball game, concert or grocery store in our culture. I go to baseball games and concerts for entertainment. I go to grocery stores for food products. When people go to church, they are often going for either entertainment value (I like the music, preaching etc) or for spiritual products (I need to be fed or my kids need spiritual input). Going to church for either of those reasons is, well, wrong. Not wrong like adultery wrong, but wrong like helping somebody out of jam so you feel better (it's a motivation issue). Now I do understand what 'going to church' means to most people. As part of the religious practice of their faith, attending church services is expected for personal growth, a spiritual experience and to worship God. When church happens, I think people do actually get blessed, encouraged and learn some neat stuff. I do believe that most often the motivations of people going to church are good. I'd like to suggest an alternative to going to church however. Before I offer my suggestion it is important to understand that the word church in the New Testament literally means "called out ones". In the Christian sense, it means those called out by God to be His people and part of His Kingdom through faith in and the grace of Jesus Christ. Therefore, church is not a location. Church is not a building. Church isn't even a meeting - in a home or bar or gym. Church can happen in a building or a home or bar or gym, but we don't go to church. Jesus didn't call us to attend meetings, we are to go to the world with Christ's message of redemption. We are to be the Church, working with God as He redeems the world. When we are being the church we bring glory to God. What might being the church look like? In groups small and large it may be taking cool water to thirsty people, helping others to finish projects or loving discussions that point to eternal life. We might even sing some songs, hear some teaching and give of our time, talents and treasures. Being the church is not a model (mega, house, traditional, emergent), it is a mindset. The church, the called out ones (saints) are to encourage one another to take the good news of Jesus to our friends and strangers throughout our lifetimes. Being the church is in the present tense. Going to church assumes attendance at a spiritual activity. Being the church assumes action (ministry that you do for others) and also living out the presence of Jesus to the world. Going to church seems to indicate that you are going to receive something from the church (which does happen almost every time for me :-). Being the church indicates who you are and all sorts of action can go with that: giving your love, smile, heart, gifts, energy, etc. for God's glory and for the building up of the saints. In a word - Missional. What are your thoughts about being the church?