It’s interesting to talk to people about how they see “the church.” Many people I know base their ideas about the church on their experiences and oftentimes, they are negative. They grew up GOING to a church that was BORING. They know hypocrites and judgemental people who GO to church. They WENT to a church that always asked for money. They WENT to church as a kid but never really saw a need once they grew up. They GO to church on Christmas and Easter, the important days. They GO to church but nothing ever really changes in their worlds.
The common thread in all of these opinions is that the church is a PLACE that you GO. Have you ever thought of the church as a PEOPLE who ARE? We, as believers, are called to BE the church. Are we consumers who look at the pastor and decide whether or not we like what he has to say? Are we to judge the building on its beauty and base whether we come back or not on how cool our kids thought their class was? Do we pick a church based on its convenient location, free hot coffee, and has comfortable seating?
Or, do we ask God to plant us in a church where we can help spread the good news of the gospel? Do we CONTRIBUTE instead of CONSUME? What if we spend more time focusing on what we CAN DO FOR THE CHURCH instead of what the church can DO FOR US?
God created us for a purpose and we each have gifts He gave us that are for the benefit of the whole church? As Christians, we are the body of Christ. The church is not a building but a group of people each playing his or her part in displaying the glory of God on the earth. A healthy church reflects the love and beauty of Christ. We are His body on earth.
1 Corinthians 12 draws the parallel between the parts of the human body and the parts of the church body. Although there are many members in both, they represent one body. The Apostle Paul explains that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are actually quite necessary (have you ever broken a little toe?) and that the members all care for one another (injure your ankle and see that every joint all the way up your leg is affected!). If one member in the church suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Every serving member of our church from the parking team to the kids team, to ushers and greeters, makes a significant difference in how people experience “church” every week. This translates into how they experience God long before the Pastor ever steps onto the stage.
I’ve never been more personally fulfilled in anything I have accomplished than when serving my local church. Let’s move outside ourselves to care about those walking through the doors who are broken and need to hear about our God the Healer. Can we put our own comfort aside and pray for those who coming in who are far from God? If we embrace the notion that we ARE the church and that is OUR responsibility to show others what a loving and awesome God we serve, our churches will be full of life.
People who come won’t leave feeling like they just sat through a bad movie. They won’t complain about the decor or the lack of leg room in the aisles. They won’t notice whether the seats were comfortable or not. Instead, they will leave with a taste in their mouth of the living God who met them there. They will leave with images of our smiles and loving handshakes. They will want to be around us and among us everyday, not just once a week.
Romans 9:17 says that the purpose for which we are raised up is to demonstrate God’s power IN US, that His name might be proclaimed throughout the earth. This is the church.