BEING THE CHURCH

“Somewhere along the way “church” for some people became a once-a-week event, an event with no sense of community.” – Thom and Sam Rainer Essential Church

In my life I have come to understand that there is a difference between being and doing. Often we simply do many things without discerning whether or not they reflect who we truly are. In fact, some forms of doing can keep us from being who God created us to be. Activity alone is more often or not a reflection of expectations others place on us or as an excuse for not having healthy expectations of ourselves. The result can be a shallow or empty life while giving a different impression on the surface.

Churches go through the same dilemma. We speak of going to church or doing ministry. Do showing up (even faithfully) and engaging in a ministry activity constitute being the church that God created us to be?

Recently churches and leaders have been using this challenge: STOP going to church. They are not advocating forsaking of the assembling of ourselves together. They are challenging us to be more concerned with fulfilling/living out our purpose as the scriptures describe it than with showing up for services on Sunday morning.

Rainer and Rainer describe who the church is – it is a community, it is an interdependent Body out of which we do ministry. We encourage one another, discipline one another, equip one another, support one another not because they are godly activities but because it is what it means to be the community of Jesus Christ. If our activities, our schedules, our priorities keep us from being that community – we have stopped truly being the church except in name.

Advertisements

10 MOST COMMON MISTAKES IN DECISION-MAKING

  1. PLUNGING IN | Gather information before thinking about the root of the issue…
  2. FRAME BLINDNESS | Set out to solve the wrong problem by losing sight of most important objectives…
  3. FRAME CREEP| Define the problem from one perspective or unduly define it by too many…
  4. OVERCONFIDENCE | Fail to collect factual information because you are too sure of your own assumptions…
  5. SHORTSIGHTED SHORTCUTS | Rely on most convenient information without questioning if it fits the situation…
  6. SHOOTING FROM THE HIP | “Wing it” with final choice rather than follow systematic process…
  7. GROUP FAILURE | Assume smart choices automatically follow smart people and allow group to self-manage…
  8. FOOL YOURSELF | Fail to interpret outcomes of past decisions for what they really say or rewrite history to protect your ego…
  9. DON’T KEEP SCORE | Assume experience is obvious and there is no need to track results or look for lessons…
  10. LACK OF AUDIT | Pay attention only to the pieces without evaluating how the parts

Based on the book DECISION TRAPS

For other great ideas on helping your church become immeasurably more, check out this link LESS CLUTTER

YOU CAN’T LOVE JESUS AND NOT LOVE THE CHURCH

One of the most intriguing images found in the Bible is that of the Church as the Bride of Christ. The Church is Christ’s partner, His helpmate. The Church is united to Christ by covenant. That covenant is rooted in Christ’s giving of Himself for the Church and then the Church giving of itself to Him in return.  Spiritually speaking, the two are one.

That oneness is described in another form in 1 Corinthians 12 when the Church is also called the Body of Christ. The Church is the continuing, living embodiment of the Person of Jesus Christ.  We are united with Him through our baptism and held to Him as inseparable because of his unconditional love.

Today, a whole lot of people feel free to despise the church.  Dan Kimball has written an excellent book called They Like Jesus, But Not the Church. Dan describes an unpleasant, even tragic reality in the 21st century. People want to have Jesus, but they want to have nothing to do with the church.

In 0ne sense, the church has earned such an attitude.  Too often the church has forgotten it was the Bride, and acted like it could be Christ’s representative without reflecting the nature and character of Christ.  But that doesn’t change a deeper reality.

God chose the church. Christ made a covenant with the Bride. He did not make that covenant because of who the Bride was but because of Who He (the Groom) is.  To chose to hate the church, to try to separate Christ from His Bride is to ask Him to divorce Himself from the Church.  This Christ clearly will n0t do.  He keeps His promises out of His unconditional love. That’s why Paul would write in Ephesians 4:25ff: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish.”

Many years ago, my father who is a pastor, said to his church, “You can come to me if you have a concern about my wife; but you need to understand I will never take sides against her. Even if I believe she is wrong and needs to make a change, I will do that because I believe it needs to be; not because you want it to be. You cannot ask me to choose you over her, she is my wife. You cannot ask me to love you by despising my wife. She is and will always be a part of me.”

I believe that’s what Christ would say to those church-despisers.  He loves His church. He loves her enough to help her to become who she is capable of being; but he  will never abandon her. Human spouses might do that – but he is God, not man, the Holy One.