Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The Church: a building vs. people

[To those of you who may not know this, the church is not a brick building but WE are the CHURCHES]. - Mali music Cry out loud

The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia which is defined as “an assembly” or “called-out ones.” The root meaning of “church” is not that of a building, but of people.

Ironic how people usually respond with ‘I go to this Church or that church’ when asked the question “what church do you attend?” Obviously from their answer, it is clear that they are identifying with a building.
Romans 16:5 “Likewise greet the church that is in their house…..” Paul refers to the church in their house - not a church building, but a body of believers.

Ephesians 1:22-23. The church is the body of Christ, of which He is the head.

So now what is the purpose of the Church?

Last time I sat to think and look carefully, all I saw was:
• A church where People were concerned about the numbers in the church, wanting the church to grow but going about it in the wrong way. The members are NOT projects, they are people so if they are nurtured properly maybe they’ll stick around.
• Churches being compared, saying who played music the best or who had more numbers, which church looked the nicest
• Church politics; this lady can’t be choir leader ‘cos she’s knew or I have more ‘holy spirit’ than she does
• Animosity; Sheila hates the pastors wife (may I add for no reason!) or Lisa does not talk to Ben because xyz happened
• Individual focused; we only care about what ‘I’ am going through that we fail to see that the Mrs Jones hasn’t been coming to church because her child is ill. Instead we judge.
• Very judgemental – the ‘elders’ look down on single mothers or the brother who drinks. Sometimes we are so blinded by self righteousness that we fail to see those who are broken and are in desperate need of help. They are probably in church ‘cos they need your help but instead you pour judgement on their head! :-(

BUT why? How has the Church – The Body of Christ – gone from caring, loving, teaching and encouraging it’s members and trying to get sinners saved TO a place of pretence??

Like the video above says, the Church is YOU! We make the church. People out there are watching us, watching our lives, seeing how we behave. They are looking for something different, something that makes us so called ‘Christians’ stand out. Our lives are open books that people read daily! We ought to be a mirror to reflect the life of Jesus Christ but sadly when people look into the mirror of some of our lives’, they see things that equate their situation or make it worse.
Now tell me, if you had a bike that could get you to work just in time and bring you back home everyday although you had to pump the tyres every morning, would you trade it for one that’s in the same condition but in a different colour? Would you exchange it for one that looks very pretty but doesn’t even move? Of course NOT, you wouldn’t!

This is how it is with those who are lost in the world and The church. Christians are being watched. People don’t see anything different in our lives so they think why should I come to church? Why should I become a Christian?

We are doing them a great injustice by not letting our light shine. The fact that we have Christ or claim to have Him, should make all the difference in our lives! 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

The Church is important, because God does not save people in isolation. God most often reaches us through other people. An important part of what needs to be restored is our relationship with other people.

Mother Theresa's statements about seeing God in the poor are just one example of a more general Christian principle. Because a large part of our problem is self-centeredness, a large part of the remedy is to learn to depend upon other people, to represent Christ to them and allow Christ to speak to us through them.

The Church is also the group with which we worship; the people we worship with. As such it has the responsibility to preach the Word of God and to administrator the sacraments [the foundational things that make us Christians e.g Holy Communion, baptism, Child dedication/Christening, marriage e.t.c]. These are critical elements in maintaining our fellowship with God and each other.

The Church also has a responsibility to encourage its members to make spiritual progress, and to show their Christian faith by their behaviour and their good works. This responsibility includes correcting others in Love. We need to be careful about carrying this out as it is very, very easy for Church discipline to lead to self-righteousness and intolerance.

I was reading the Word for You today and here’s what it says:

"People come to church looking for light and warmth! They want to know we care. Good preaching and music may bring them in, but relationships that nurture will keep them coming back. You can feel lonely in a crowd, even one that preaches love and has a 'greet your neighbour' moment in every service.
If we kept 10% of those who came through our church doors we'd be in constant growth mode.”

We can’t expect everyone to be friendly. People bring with them the wounds of their past, the struggles of their present, and the unspoken anxieties of their future. People have their baggage so we gotta be friendly first!

What they want to know is, 'Will you love me as I am, even if I don't fit your mould and change as quickly as you'd like me to?' Often our rigid structure keeps that from happening. Pastor, if your greatest concern on Monday is 'how many people did we have in church yesterday?' check your heart. You may be more concerned with your own image than meeting people's needs. Jesus told His disciples, '...I have called you friends...' John 15:15. Many people are shy, distrusting, and relationally impaired. Our mandate is to make 'friends' out of them, not just bench warmers and financial contributors. The Scripture says, 'Bear one another's burdens...' Galatians 6:2 because a burden shared is a burden lightened.

Many of those who come to church aren't looking for profound answers, they just want to feel cared for.
When that happens they open up to God's love and miracles take place.”

In summary, The church is not a building or a denomination. It is the people and as The body of Christ we should be able to apply the principles of 1 Corinthians 12: encouraging, teaching, and building one another up in the knowledge and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is the place where we show LOVE and Care for one another; where we meet the needs of the needy just like Jesus would have done if He was here in His physical body.

...The love of God is like the ocean,you can see its beginning, but not the end. :-)