Sunday, August 20, 2006

Why Church?

I have been thinking about the reasons I belong to a church. Often, my calling to lead others in a life of worship makes me stay somewhere a lot longer than I probably should - especially as I try to discern what God wants me to do. When a particular church falls short of these things I start to wonder if I or my family belong there. I think to myself, "if I were not in leadership, would I stay?" Often the answer is no.

Keep in mind that while these are not comprehensive, they all contain the key ingredient of the church: other people. One person is not a church or THE Church - and one person cannot adequately grow, worship, or serve without the proper influence of a community of believers.

BELONGING - Churches exists so that people can belong, interact, and bond with others. We are adopted by God and we are to adopt others in His name.

WORSHIP - Church must put Jesus first. He will be who we talk about, who we sing about, and who we think about. We will meet with Him as a community because scripture promises His blessing when two or more are gathered in His name. All we do is for Him.

LIFESTYLE - Churches exists so that in community, lifestyles can be transformed by Jesus through others. We grow closer to each other and to Jesus when we are in true community.

ACTS OF SERVICE - Jesus prayed for things to be on earth as it is in heaven. We must serve our community outside the church. As THE Church continues the ministry of Jesus as His body, we do so through acts of service with our fellow believers in a local church.

SHARING - We have been given life through Jesus - a wonderful gift. It is only natural (or supernatural) that we would want to share that life with others. It is not just for us. A church has no right to exist if it hoards Jesus and hides from the world. Much like a gardener we can plant and tend, but it is God who causes the growth. Let us share Jesus, let us remain "in Him," and he will produce the fruit.

Having called these elements out. I often wonder how much we have added to "church." I am sure I cannot count the number of "traditions" we have burdened people with, in order for them to be a part of a local community. Have we forgotten Jesus? Did we miss our purpose?

"These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far away. Their worship is a farce, for they replace God's commands with their own man-made teachings." -Mark 7:7