Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Essential Church

Would Your Church Be Missed?

Some time back in April I attended a youth retreat with the church youth group. It was called "40 hours of Passion" and its speaker was powerful. Every session was complete gold and out of the many lessons I took from the weekend there was one that stood out among the rest. The speaker posed a very interesting question. What if for some reason the church you attend had to close its doors? Whether it be for financial reasons or a spiritual split, what if the next sunday you came to find your church all boarded up? Then came the question that blew my mind, "If your church did close, would it be missed?

Would the community surrounding your church even notice you left the neighborhood? Would the neighbors just walk on by as if the church was just another closed down building? More importantly, could the community survive if your church left the neighborhood or would it be business as usual? Is your church essential or is it replaceable?

What does the essential church look like? First, the essential church does not waste its energy on futile crusades that distract it from making the kingdom a real and tangible place here on earth. One such crusade is the conservative church's useless attempt to defend "the sanctity of marriage". Does the conservative church honestly believe that no gay marriage really solves anything? Just because a state recongnizes the marriage doesn't mean that God has to uphold it. Even if you ban it, you still have people living in sin. How many churches are fighting this losing battle? How may more people could the church serve? How many more widows could the church comfort?

Second, the essential church embodies Gal 3:26-28. The essential church is a reflection of the community that surrounds it. The community is made up of all different kinds of cultures, traditions, genders and colors. If a church is to be essential, then it cannot pretend that the white male is only one allowed to speak or sing aloud in its worship to God. Those who discourage women and minorities from being a part of the worship is denying the truth. They are denying Christ's sacrifice and resurrection that has destroyed such barriers.

Third, the essential church must look and act in complete contradiction to the ways of this world. People are looking for something different. They are looking for change. In an age of zealous patriotism it hard to distinguish the Church from the White House. The essential church is a part of a kingdom that is not of this world. If the church is just going to be a mouth piece for the government, then people don't want to be a part of it because they see no difference between the two. The means and ends of the kingdom are vastly different from the ways and ends of the government and the world. The community would have no choice, but be attracted to a church that loved its enemies and put others before itself.

Is your church essential to the community? If not, then why not? I want to encourage all of us to strive to make our churches essential. To make our churches absolutely necessary to the community's existence. To make our churches so vital that a gaping hole would be left if it were to leave. To make our churches so important that people would notice the boarded up windows and just not walk by. It's not too late. There still time to turn it around. It may not happen tomorrow, but I hope and pray that all of us will live to see the day when all of becomes members of an essential church.


Coming Next Week: Seize The Day


jch 6:42 PM  

An incredible and thoughtful blog. Thanks, Chris.

Remember, as you venture down to Birmingham, check out Cahaba Valley Church of Christ.

J-Wild 4:47 AM  

Great post man!

With so many poor battles being fought, it's important to highlight churches that are dealing with things that I believe Christ would have wanted us to address. Check out the Cedar Ridge Church efforts to address the genocide in Darfur (click here).

We are taking a group of people down to the July 10 service. I really hope that Christians live up to their "moral value" branding and stand behind this kind of Gospel.

Again great post...and I do believe that MCOC would be missed. Probably not by it's immediate community (except for the YP Chorus and Music Together which is something), but definately by the homeless who congregate three days a week. It would definately be missed by the kids and teens as well.

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