I began this blog a year and a half ago. I started writing part 2 just a week after part 1 and forgot about it. I was going through my saved drafts and found this unfinished thought. So here it is, all pretty and revisited. Please read the first part to get you up to date.
No seriously, go read it.
Really, It won’t fully make sense unless you click here and go back and read it.
Its not that long, just a quick read to get you caught up. Please…
Ok, now that you have read the first installment, read part two starting… now!
What does God want for the church? As we look at the early church we will find church in her purest form. No big budgets, or large auditoriums, and no coffee or doughnuts . I’m not saying these things are wrong for the church. I’m just wondering what the people of the early church did without thousands of dollars in equipment and coffee to get them going. It must have been a boring service.
How did the early church entertain people, keep people interested, and make them feel welcome without these things? Well the answer is pretty simple. They loved…
I cringe when I hear people talk about going to a church because they feel good when they leave. That couldn’t be any further from the point.
A little less obvious misconception is the idea that we should go to church to “get fed”. People choose a church because they learn a lot or the church serves some need of theirs well, like childcare, art, business contacts etc. A good thought, but not the reason for church, and definitely not the ultimate goal of the church.
We also hear that people love their church because it is entertaining and they love the music/dramas/videos. OK, I think you know where I’m going by now. I’m sure Paul hired a band and rocked out to some killer worship music before he spoke to the people of Ephesus, or Rome.
I don’t think God’s intention for the church was any of these three things. All three of these things make church a “me first” concept. It wasn’t until our generation that church even considered being entertaining. The church was started to be centered around God or (if you would like me to use big words) theocentric.
At the heart of the church should be connecting with God, doing the work or God, and spreading the radical love of God. Anything else is extra gravy on the potatoes. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. -Hebrews 10 24-25
In Ephesians Paul explains the purpose of ministry to the church body, he says ministry is meant… 12to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. -Ephesians 4:12-13
In other words, the church is built to serve. We are a community of believers that “spur” (as the ASV puts it) each other on to love deeper, reach further, and ultimately serve our community, our nation, and our world.
One interesting side note*
Notice in the verses from Ephesians that Paul says it in this order. To equip people for works of service so that they may be built up until we reach unity in faith and knowledge. How do we get to faith and knowledge? First we serve. How does our church grow and build up? First we serve. Paul does not suggest that we study the scriptures so we know enough to serve. He does not suggest that we become a large church so that we can serve. He says to serve to become wiser in the scriptures. He says we serve to grow our church. He says, first we serve.
The perfect church is not “me first”. She is “Christ first”. She is centered around us (the Christ followers) utilizing our gifts, strengths, and passions to love as Christ loved, by serving our community, our nation, and our world. She is theocentric.
In a time that Josh McDowell calls, “The Last Generation of Christians” how do we reclaim the world for what it is, God’s? It all starts in one place. You may have guessed it from the title.
What is the church? I think the better question is, what should the church be. In today’s society the church is the place where Christians go to “get fed” or to “experience community”. I have been struggling with this for a long time. In fact, this has become my heart’s passion. To find the perfect church.
Many people believe that the perfect church can not be accomplished. Perfection is something we long for, but can never really be achieved. A common misconception is that God is the only thing perfect and nothing else can be. I don’t think any church will ever be exact, without fault or error, but it can be “perfect”.
Let me be clear.
Perfect is simply being as God intended to be. In 2 Samuel it says, “God’s ways are perfect…”. Its overwhelming, when you look at the times in the Bible that the word perfect is used its mostly referring to the will or plan of God, not God himself, but God’s ways or intentions. In Matthew 48 it says, “But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” Matthew knows that no person is flawless, or without error. We all fall short and sin. He is saying we are all to be as God intended us to be.
So get that notion out of your head. Things can be perfect in fact in Genesis 6:9 Noah was referred to as perfect in many translations. Not because he was sinless, or flawless, but because he “walked with God”. We can be perfect. The Church can be perfect. Perfection is a goal that can be reached and it should be our goal. To be as God intended us to be.
So what did God intend for the church? That’s where it gets a little harder. I guess the best thing to do is look at “The Church of Jesus”. No its not a new denomination. I’m referring to the first church. The church that Jesus himself lead. I would think that sense Jesus was fully God that the church he started would be exactly as God intended, correct?
Lets start off with the first objection. Churches didn’t exist during Jesus time. He was a teacher, not a pastor or leader of a church. Sorry to be so blunt, but if you think what Jesus did wasn’t start a church, you are wrong. Jesus spent his adult life teaching the disciples so they could be prepared to go out and make new disciples and so on. Is that not what The Church is? The Great Commission was the first “mission statement”. Jesus sending his Church out into the world to start more Churches.
Lets go ahead and get another thing out of the way. The Church is God’s Bride. So if I refer to The Church as “she” it is not me being politically correct. It is reclaiming the image of The Church from the Bible. She is God’s Bride.
Now that we got that out of the way, lets take a break.