Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Can of Worms...

I thought I would open up a can of worms today…

So where do you go to church?

How do you go to something you are?

Huh? What?

How do you go to something you are?

You know what I mean - where do you attend services – where is your church building?

The church is people, not a building. The church, or ecclesia in the Greek, can mean many things, but nowhere in the New Testament is it described as a building! It mostly refers to 1) the whole body of Christians; 2) a company of Christians gathering for worship, sharing, and teaching; 3) a body of believers in a district – for example, “…To the church of Galatia…”

In other words, it really does just mean people. The church is people who have been called out of darkness through faith in Jesus Christ. People not only make up the church, they are the church.

The building or home or place that we meet is not what the Bible refers to as church.

If you mean, where do I fellowship with other believers, then I could tell you any place I find them. I also meet regularly with friends for fellowship in the Lord. Some people call that a house church or simple church, and some people don’t label it at all.

What do you mean by that? What is a house church?

However and whatever you want to call it, what I am talking about is simply a gathering of believers. Typically this happens in someone’s home, but it could be their office or shop, a restaurant, or any place at all.
We gather to worship Jesus, to pray for needs, to share the Word of God and minister together.

Yeah, but don’t you miss being part of a church?

I am part of a church. I’m part of the church!

Again, you know what I mean. So don’t you attend services in a regular church?

Actually, sometimes I do. I even occasionally minister in traditional churches.

However, there is something about gathering with a small group of like-minded believers to hear what God has been ministering to each one during the week that blesses and edifies. Frankly, this can only happen in a smaller group… It is generally not practical to try this in a large group setting. Logistically, it would be very difficult.

Paul the apostle described gatherings of believers actually sharing with each other as something good and necessary:

“How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.”1 Corinthians 14:26

“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:19

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” Colossians 3:16
There is something about inviting people into your home, over for a barbeque, or to a party that causes them open up and sometimes even share what is really happening in their lives. Inviting someone out for coffee or a golf game may open the door for the Holy Spirit to minister in a way that would never happen in a service while you stare at the back of someone's head.
Sure, it could happen in a traditional service, but generally doesn't. It may happen, but it is rare.
Most people can "play church" for a couple of hours on a Sunday morning. They can put on their "church" face, and pretend in a large group. They greet you during the 2-minute "fellowship time" and say, "Peace be with you," but you may never know what is really happening in their lives.
Their kids may be on drugs, their spouse having an affair, and they are ready to quit, but they will not open up about that during a Sunday service. No way! No one wants to have all that out there in front of the pastor and congregation - especially not during a service. Besides, if someone gets emotional in a service, they are generally ushered outside - and fast!
I guess what I am saying is that there is something genuine about being face to face with a small group of believing friends and sharing what is happening in your life and what God is speaking to your heart. It is a safe place, and people can feel free to reveal their victories and failures.
Jesus said it best when He declared, “For wheretwo or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20.

If Jesus thought that two or three were enough of a gathering of believers for Him to show up, why don’t we?