It’s kind of funny how we “do” church. Many have relegated church to an hour meeting each week, singing a few songs and listening to a sermon. That’s a far cry from the early church who longed to be together every day (Acts says they met daily (Acts 2:46).) Today, sadly, even the committed are “attending” less regularly. Some polls define regular attenders as someone who shows up at least three out of every eight Sundays!
The other day someone commented that they thought church was boring and rather odd. They didn’t find “attending” a church service meaningful. Is it possible that we’ve settled for something less than God intended? Here are some of my “It ain’t church” observations about what church should be like.
- It ain’t church unless we are doing life together.
We are the church. We don’t “go” to church. The church is the body of Christ, the family of God. Church is people. We aren’t part of church unless we are part of people’s lives. The word “church” in the Greek is “ekklesia” referring to people, literally “an assemply.” It also carries the meaning “to call out” or “called out ones.” The church is a body of believers who have been called out from the world to live together as Christ followers.
“So also we are many persons. But in Christ we are one body. And each part of the body belongs to all the other parts.” Romans 12:5 (NIRV)
- It ain’t church unless we are using our gifts and abilities.
The Bible is clear that all of us have spiritual gifts to be used to build up others. We were saved to serve, not to sit. Even the secular culture understands the more we give, the happier we feel. Doing good for others and the community provides a natural sense of accomplishment. How much more meaningful is it to serve with an eternal purpose in mind?!?
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)
- It ain’t church unless we are giving financially.
It always amazes me how people can attend a church week after week and never give of their finances. We are called to give not just our time and talent but also from our treasure! Scripture tells us that how we spend our money tells a lot about what’s in our heart. True commitment to the local church will manifest in our money management.
“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:21(NIV)
- It ain’t church unless we are being transformed.
Church should change us. Because of their courage and insight, Peter and John were recognized as having been with Jesus. Church should have the same influence on us. In our neighborhoods and in our communities, our behavior, our very lives, should identify us as having been with Jesus whether it’s integrity in business, compassion in our interactions, or generosity in giving. Sharing times of worship and learning together accomplish this in our lives.
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:19 (NIV)
- It ain’t church unless it’s all about Jesus.
Sometimes we get confused about what church is and isn’t: it’s not a pastor’s personality, not the style of our music, not an impressive building or a comfortable auditorium. The church is the Bride of Christ, made up of a body of believers, joined together in worship and devotion, serving one another in love.
“[Jesus said], …I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18 (NIV)
BEFORE YOU GO
As Bill Hybels says, “The local church is the hope of the world.” In the Pacific Conference, we absolutely believe that to be true so the stakes are high for us to get this right! What would you add to the list? Let’s commit to living this out in our own lives even as we encourage those within our realm of influence to do so as well.