Recently, I have been reconsidering church and what church is or should be.I have read several things that indicate many today see the church as irrelevant to their lives. One quote that really struck me was that many were not opposed to Christianity but just the organized church. The message of the Gospel is timeless and as relevant today as it was in the 1st century. Maybe it is our concept of church or the way we do church that is irrelevant. I have been analyzing my own experiences and thoughts about church.
When I was younger, I had this concept that the church was that big complex of brick buildings just off I-20. I can even remember my dad trying to explain to me that church is not really the building but the congregation that meets in the building. Well, I just did not get it. It seems that there is a tendency to equate churches with the buildings.
Some go to church on Sundays and maybe even Wednesday’s but then they leave having fulfilled a weekly obligation. Church ends at the edge of the parking lot and it is back to business as usual. They are able to compartmentalize their lives – acting one way on Sunday’s and when they are around other Christians; and quite differently when they are not around other Christians.To be honest I have tried this approach at times in my life. I found it exhausting to remember which “role” I was supposed to be playing and in the end, I was quite disgusted with myself.Somewhere along the way, I reached the conclusion that a faith that does not affect my daily life was useless. Does this mean I have got everything figured out? No way!
For others church is about having bigger and nicer buildings. They work hard to maintain the property and support it monetarily.I am not opposed to churches having buildings; it is very helpful to have a permanent place to meet.We should take care of the buildings. However, the buildings should never be our primary focus. What good is a beautiful cathedral without people?
There seems to an attitude of consumerism. Some select a church based on the programs it offers. Ok, to be honest, I have done that too.I wanted to attend a church with a large singles program that would meet my needs, in the end I think my priorities were messed up.I was more concerned about my social needs than growing spiritually. Personally, I have grown the most spiritually when I was focused on serving God and others.I still struggle with this myopic view that somehow church should meet my needs. After all church certainly worship should never be about me.
I think I have rambled enough for now and I will close with a few questions that are swirling through my head. What needs to change for church to be or stay relevant? What would a biblical model for doing church look like? What adjustments do I need to make personally? What things are non-negotiable essentials that cannot change and what things are personal or cultural? How has my culture impacted my concept of church?