Over the past few weeks this topic has come up more than a few times in conversations I have had.
Where did the idea of having a church building come from?
What if you did not have a church building?
Would you still worship Christ?
Would you still gather with other believers?
How would you share the gospel with others if you could not invite them to church?
I believe that the teachings of Jesus are very clear that we are to meet together and worship Him but I cannot find one place where He commanded one of his followers to erect a building in His name. Actually, He did say that He was actually greater than the temple and He told His disciples that they were His church. So now then, why do we put so much focus on a building being the House of God and it being “filled with the Holy Spirit”?
Imagine your life without a building that’s sole purpose was worshiping God. Imagine if we opened the doors to that same building 7 days a week to serve the needs of our communities. Isn’t that what it is all about anyway?
Earlier this week I had the opportunity to go into our community and serve food to those in need. Some of these folks were homeless and others just down on their luck. Whatever their circumstances are the chance of them coming into a church building on a Sunday night for a Worship service is very slim. This whole experience caused me to think, “was the church that Jesus said he would make Peter the foundation of ever about a so-called worship service?”
Again, do not get me wrong, I believe that Christians should gather together and worship Christ and learn Scripture. I believe those are biblical concepts, but I also believe church as Christ intended it is much larger.
In all honestly, I believe that most of our modern ideas of church and services are based on man made traditions. I cannot imagine that serving those in need and sharing the love of Christ with them is not just as much church as any service you can hold inside the four walls of the church building. The great commission tells us to go and make disciples and sitting in your church building 3 times a week is not cutting it.
We have to stop thinking of church growth in terms of membership and think of it in the way Christ intended it – Spreading the Gospel. Instead of saying how many 1st time visitors were here today, why not ask how far your members spread the gospel this week. Too often we only evangelize as a means to get more people to come to our church. Frankly, I do not care if they ever come to my church, I just want them to have a relationship with Jesus. That is the most important thing.
Instead of opening our doors more maybe we should be closing them more to encourage our members to GO.
This week my Pastor talked about living lives that are worthy of our blessings and again I am drawn back to the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts and the sense of community that the church had. It was a system that said the NEEDS of others are more important than your WANTS. You could even go so far as to say the NEEDS of others are equally as important as your NEEDS.
As Christians, if we truly want to start living a faith that is worthy of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on a cross and a faith that draws others closer to God then we have to learn and live this key truth. Serving others is our responsibility. Putting the needs of others is the example Christ set for us.
I told this to a friend and the commented he made was that this sounded like a socialist idea. I have heard before that Jesus may have agreed with socialism on many things but the catch here is that it did not and should not take government action to force us to serve the needs of others. Yes, Socialism can force us to share wealth and ensure everyone gets an equal share of goods but that does not fix the heart issue. The church in Acts did not need the government to tell them what to do or how to serve others because they had something greater and that is the Holy Spirit. If you have the Holy Spirit living inside of you and you listen to it then you will have an unquenchable desire to serve others.
Too often today we are more concerned with our savings account than whether our neighbor has food and water for today. We say that we trust God with our future, but we live our lives like we have to have an emergency back up plan in case God doesn’t come through.
True ministry begins when we realize that church is not a service we attend but it is the service we provide.