This the first in a series onthe subject, “What is Church?” I welcome you to join in the conversation.
Some other friends and I, Ginny and Jim Rogers were also talking about “what church is”. It is not always easy to put into words. And the key is……..something that can be put into words and also put into action.
I like very much what my friend Debra Burns said……”Church is a place to come together to get refuled. I simply believe that a church should be a community of followers (followers of Jesus) more than a community of believers (believers in Jesus Christ). If we are a community of followers……we’re a community of believers by default…..because everything we do should be centered on Jesus. We are people who are passionately dependent upon God in worship and prayer all week long.”
This community comes together weekly as a body to Praise and Worship God and to teach and encourage each other and….to get refuled….to then go out and simply “live” ministry through our interactions with others in daily life. Then they go on throughout the week in home churches and Bible studies, and groups of people doing “like” things….living the Truth.
A church is a gathering of people who immerse themselves in the ways of God…….to worship and love the Most Holy……..to pray…….. to celebrate what Jesus is doing in their lives and their world so that they can LEAVE………yes…I believe that we come to church so that we can LEAVE……so that we can GO OUT and meet people where they are, so that we can GO OUT and share our lives with others, thereby sharing what we hold most dear, our relationship with Christ, with others.
I believe that as we see a shift from “consumer church” to “mission oriented life” that we will see people gathering together for something much greater than ourselves. What I find most refreshing and moving in God like ways, is that as we change our attitude….we actually attain what we sought in the beginning. What I mean is, when we decide not to come to the church gathering “to simply be filled”, but to come to “refuel and fill” then we find that we are filled.
As God’s children, we are called to gather together in love and fellowship, but ultimately we are called to disperse and to reach out in love to all those around us….. in our homes, work places, schools and communities…and even the world. We are called to go out into that world to share the love that we have so graciously received through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I like tremendously that Debra said, “I went to church to get fed and refueled but did not participate in other ‘church’ ministries because of my full time occupation” (Debra works at the Sanford Crisis Pregnancy Center in town). I believe that is awesome and also important to understand. Some people are called by God to serve at church, some in their community and some within the church community of people and some both. That’s the beauty of it…all are following…not just believing. Serving as a result of the opportunities God has provided, serving as a “calling”…..not just an obligation. No one should feel guilty because they are doing what God called them to do and maybe it isn’t what “man” called us to do.
I see “church” (the community of followers and believers) and “ministry” to be almost synomonous. We have Loretta who has the gift of loving animals….she naturally helps us all with our pets. Some people are really good with kids….and this is what they do, they lead our youth (thank you Steve, Dave and Todd and many others). Some have a passion for the unborn…thank you Debra and Laura and Andrea! Some have a passion for music…thank you Phil, Gregario, Joel and Joey and Steve. Some have a passion for art, thank you Nancy. Some have a passion for teaching, thank you Phil again and thank you Steve. Some work well with tools and I see them all the time using those skills to help others…thank you James, Chuck and Greg….and on and on and on…..I have left out so many people, you get the idea….but they are there….passionatly following in the way that God has led them. “Church” is a place that we encourage each other to always be “open and available to be used by God at any time, any place”. “Life” is worship and “life” is ministry……..”Church” is a community of these believers that see it this way and who long to live this way. (organic, missional, community focused)
Church is a community of people in dialog with each other about Jesus, about God, about the Bible, about life. Dialogs are conversations that are open…not closed. (engaging and authentic)
Church is a community of people…a community of diverse people…and this diversity is celebrated….because God so obviously celebrates this diversity….look at us…we’re all different and special. (ecumenical)
Church is a community of people that encourage and teach each other the ways and the wisdom of Jesus, indeed…God. Not out of a “legalistic belief”….but out of the joy of obedience, truth, fullfillment and love. A community where the pastors and leaders equip people for the mission and to serve one another.(discipling, Christ centered)
One of the hardest things I sometimes find to articulate is being a part of something that is “bigger than ourselves” (because GOD and His kingdom is certainly so much “bigger than ourselves”). Church is a community of people that are outward focused, concerned with the “Big C”. I like to call this “kingdom focused”. I believe that “church” is simply a small community of followers and believers that are a part of, and make discisions, based on God’s larger kingdom rather than simply our “small community”. I believe deeply that God will take care of the little “c” if we stay focused on the big “C”. Thank you “School of Fish”, thank you Andrea and Dave at SCPC, and thank you “BaldWorshipLeader”. (Big ‘C’ focused, missional)
Church is a community of followers and believers that looks from the outside like the people on the inside (not like some other church or program somewhere else). (authentic, organic)
Church is a community of people in which each persons “gift” is celebrated. (creative, organic)
And finally…….I believe that church is a community of believers and followers that are on a journey…….together…and with God……learning to follow (thank you Jason).