(not the bloggers garage)
Walking into church many times is like walking into my garage. There is so much clutter that you can’t even see where to park the car. I’m somewhat new to this pastor thing, just 3 years experience as a “senior pastor” but I have struggled at one simple question- what is church. My text books tell me that a church is a body of believers that meets together for fellowship and growth. As I drive from place to place my eyes tell me with grand cathedrals every 3 blocks or so that it is a building. My experience tells me something different, church is programs. Boy howdy do we do programs.
It’s my heart to build a biblical church. As scripture directs, so I follow. Church should be biblical… right? The struggle we all face though is that the church of today looks nothing like the church of yesteryears. The clearest picture we get of the early church is in acts 2- “42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” For me it just seems so natural. Church today seems forced. I struggle because nowhere in scripture do you see growth strategies, youth ministry, or even angst about church growth. What you saw was men and women transformed by the power of Christ, who looked to become a part of God’s body on this earth. The bible doesn’t talk about worship wars, nor does it speak of generational angst. In fact I have not found anything about programming in the bible.
My thought about the current church is that our love for programming comes from our love for ourselves. Now we don’t come at it from a selfish perspective, but ultimately we program to meet our needs. We feel youth are important so we start a program. We feel seniors are important so we start a program. In fact as churches we direct what we do by what programs would draw in people to our churches. From good intentions we have created bad policy. Here’s the rub, the church does not exist to serve its members, but the members exists to serve within the church. We are a place of service, not a place to be served.
The modern church certainly is a place of worship, but the question we must ask is who do we worship? Far to often we end up steering the church to worship the needs of its members. When people met in the early church they were so humbled by the perfect gift of Christ that they realized how little this world had to offer, and they just started giving what they had away. Church was natural to them because they came together as a body to worship God as strive together. Evangelism grew from an overflowing heart, not a program.
When needs arise in church often what we look for is another program to fix the leak in the dam. We as churches have just placed one more tub in the garage, further cluttering what we are doing. As weird as it sounds, maybe if we as churches began doing less, we would start growing. Maybe if we saw ourselves as the equipper, that which scripture encourages, and stopped programming every aspect of our member’s time, we would free our members to go and minister to those around them.
What do you think?