It is Sunday morning and all over the country families are putting on their “sunday best” getting ready to go to “church”. They will arrive at a building at a certain time and the countdown will begin. They will enter the sanctuary and children will be told to be quiet and all hats will be removed and then “worship” will begin. Songs will be sung, offerings will be taken, scriptures will be read, a sermon with three polished points and an illustration will be preached, wafers and jucie will be taken, a benediction will be prayed and people will leave saying they have been to “church”.
Now thanks to brave men and women “sunday best” no longer means suit and tie but in many “churches” you can wear jeans, even on the platform. And now it is not even necesarrily “Sunday” but maybe your “church” meets on Saturday night or another time. And now children may not even be allowed in the sanctuary but have their own facility where they can have “children’s church”. And the atmosphere is far more relaxed with a variety today of styles and preferences of “worship”. But when it is all said and done – Is this “church”?
What is Church? Have we defined it as a place we go to because that is what we do and all our lives it has been called church?
I recently engaged some folks in conversations about church and in all most all cases when the topic of church came up they told me about where they go, what time they meet, the quality of the children and youth programs, the style of worship and how their church is reaching out into their community (some pretty great things I might add). I am not sure any of them talked about the “called out ones” or to put it into other terms the people of God in life everyday. The conversations all tended to be about a place and time and something we go to instead of something we are.
Now please don’t misunderstand me. I am not trying to get rid of the meeting place and time and elements and some of the things that take place. But I wonder if maybe we have not made these the end instead of the means to the end. Somehow we think that if we have butts in pews we are successful at being the church.
Jesus said to Peter, “upon this rock I will build my church”. Jesus had a bulding campaign. But his building campaign didn’t involve bricks and mortar but people. He was building his church. HIS CHURCH. HE was building his church.
Several times in Scripture it is made clear that we are the temple of God and that His Spirit dwells in people not buildings. His church is a transformed people not a sacred place. His church happens in life 24/7 not 1 hour on Sunday. His church goes to work, has a family, deals with traffic…
But isn’t there something in the bible about gathering? Yes, but is that relegated to a time and place? The New Testament church didn’t have a building, a pastor, a “worship” leader, a children’s program, etc. Was it any less the church?
Is a house church any less a church? (many in the “church” want us to believe it isn’t an acceptable “form of church”)
Is a group of believers gathered at a coffee shop any less a church?…
Is a group of believers meeting in a bar any less a church?..
Is a group of believes meeting in the breakroom at work any less a church?..
What are your thoughts? How do you define “Church”?