Recently, twitter and blogs have been alight with the idea that people are too involved in church (in effect asking, how much church is too much); and the anecdotes support this theory.
For example, there’s the man who is at church 4 nights a week, away from his wife and children, playing the drums in the praise band. There’s the flutist who is also in the praise band who is having the affair with the drummer. There are the deacons who are meeting every Friday night to watch the game on the projector in the fellowship hall. (And if there’s a little gambling or drinking going on under the table, we’ll just “sweep it under the rug” and keep it quiet.)
We can add more innocent scenarios. The family who goes to the contemporary worship service on Saturday night so they can sleep in on Sunday. Then the kids attend youth group on Sunday night so the parents can have a date. Mom is at the ladies small group on Monday night. Dad is at the fella’s small group on Tuesday night. There’s Choir practice on Wednesday night. The kids go to a midweek youth activity on Thursday night. And Friday is the only night the family actually has dinner together. Good, solid, Christian family? Dedicated?
New Faith Lifestyle?
Maybe and maybe not. See, this new faith lifestyle we are seeing develop has everything to do with religion and nothing to do with faith.
The people who are looking for something to criticize seem to be taking the position to the extreme, saying: “We don’t need church at all”. So let’s address both points and see what God has to say about it.
- Church is not a social club. When people try to make church their social outlet, problems arise. Families are neglected. Affairs occur. Faith begins to be placed in the church leadership or the church institution rather than in Jesus Christ. Sin creeps into the mix and we end up with a corrupt club that has left its first love.
- Church is not to be dismissed. It is an important part of maintaining a relationship with Jesus Christ. When we cut ourselves off from a church community, we diminish our relationship with God.
What is Church?
What is church? It is not a building, a preacher, or a praise band. It is not a kids club, a food pantry, or an entertainment center. Church, as defined in Acts 1-4, is a group of people with a common faith. The early church met in secret under penalty of persecution and possibly death. They were people who had seen the miracles of Christ.
They had seen Him crucified. They had seen the strange natural phenomena that had accompanied His crucifixion. Most importantly, they had seen Him walk bodily among them, eating, teaching, and visiting for over a month after His crucifixion.
They had a common knowledge.
They had heard Him say He was preparing a place for humanity and would return so that we could be where He was.
They had a common expectation.
They continued steadfastly in the Apostle’s teachings, with communion as a remembrance of Christ’s vicarious death, and prayer.
They had a common practice.
They knew that Christ had told them to bear witness of Him. A witness has a duty to provide truthful, relevant information performing a limited role.
They had a common purpose.
Take a long look at the church you attend… or you are thinking of attending. How closely does it reflect these tenets of the first church? Ultimately the church is the people who share an expectant faith and support one and other as they practice that faith and fulfill their purpose.
When ‘church shopping’, if the small groups, praise band, and basketball teams are what makes the decision, then those bloggers are probably right, it’s just a waste of time. But if we are lucky enough to find a small group of people with an honest faith… then we’ve *really* found a place to belong.
Acts 2:42-47. The Fellowship of the Believers.
Hebrews 10:19-35. The Full Assurance of Faith.