Be the Church

14 Jun

What is church? Is it a building or a Sunday service? Are coffee and donuts mandatory? What about an organ or pews? Or a choir? What is the dress code? What kind of music do you sing? Are you a Pentecostal, a Baptist, a Lutheran, a Protestant, a Catholic, or non-denominational? Does it matter?

Let’s loose the chains of bondage that confine our perception of “church” and redefine what it means to be the church. A church is, simply put, any amount of believers banded together to pursue Christ. Why would a loving, compassionate, forgiving God choose to create a church that excludes people and makes them feel uncomfortable and guilty? Why would a God who so creatively shaped each of His children as unique individuals then force them to attend a “cookie cutter” church service where conformity is mandatory and free-thinking is not tolerated? He wouldn’t.

Is your cultural definition limiting your eternal explanation of church? Are you having a hard time converting your “unchurched” friends? Maybe it’s because you are stifling their individuality and attempting to extract them from their culture. We ought to try bringing church to the people instead of bringing the people to the church.

Instead of focusing on getting bodies inside a building on a Sunday, let’s focus on getting Jesus inside hearts for eternity. We need to lower the bar of how we do church and raise the bar of how we do discipleship. We need to make disciples, not converts. As the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 says,

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Simply, we are commanded to: go, make disciples, baptize them, and teach them to obey. How are we, the church, doing at obeying this command? Jaeson Ma, our speaker last week, assessed the overall progress of the Christian church at spreading the Good News of Christ, and determined that our failures are a product of our process. We are attempting to fulfill the Great Commission backwards from the way the Bible commands us to. We present the “unchurched” with the Gospel, along with a long list of rules (both Biblical and cultural), often shoving complicated theology down their throats. Then, if they decide to conform to the standards of the church, we baptize them. After baptism, the new believer (hopefully) will wander into a small group or a Bible study and if they are lucky will find themselves a Godly mentor. Lastly, after studying the Word, listening to many sermons, possibly even attending seminary, the believer is considered ready to “go” out into the world and share the Gospel.

Why don’t we start discipling God’s children even before they become believers? Why don’t we convey the love of God by pouring out onto the lives of unbelievers? Why don’t we sacrifice a few hours a week to invest in the life and salvation of others? I would venture to say that our evangelism would be far more successful if our message was communicated in the form of actions more often than the form of words. If we truly were living our lives as Jesus incarnate, our message would be undeniable, irresistible even. Then, baptism would follow naturally, the way that God designed it to. It would be filled with enthusiasm, a free-flowing commitment, straight from the heart. After the new believer has experienced and felt the love and power of God, living a righteous lifestyle will be much easier to swallow. It is much easier to rationalize the sacrifice of finances, pleasure, addictions, relationships, etc. for a loving and sovereign God as opposed to sacrificing in the name of fitting into the mold of organized religion. Christ did not die for religion. He died for a relationship with each and every one of us.

I am not encouraging you to sell watered-down Christianity or cheap grace. I am, rather, encouraging you to preach the truth, to share the Gospel the way God designed it to be shared. The reason people aren’t interested in Christianity is because we aren’t really offering it. Offer love, offer discipleship, offer grace, offer purpose… Let’s get every nation in this generation. Let’s stop attending church and start to be the church.

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4 Responses to “Be the Church”

  1. Allen Taylor June 14, 2010 at 7:46 pm #

    Nice writing. You are on my RSS reader now so I can read more from you down the road.

    Allen Taylor

  2. Teri Gugliotta June 15, 2010 at 5:45 pm #

    Dearest Erika ~

    Please tell me that once you are finished with your mission work in Kona and in India…you will definately put all of this in a book and get it published. You have sooo much to teach others. Who You are and the Way You are draws people to you… you’re really a true Blessing and God’s annointing is just poured out all over you! You completely Rock!

    • erikaearl June 18, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

      Teri, That’s quite the idea. We’ll have to see where the Lord takes me, but I love writing. Thanks for being so supportive and encouraging!

  3. La Vonne Earl June 16, 2010 at 5:27 am #

    I agree that after a person experiences the true love of God they are so filled with what has been given to them that it comes natural for them to return the gift of love and sacrifice.

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