Is the word “church” a noun or a verb? How you answer this question explains whether you understand the Gospel or have totally missed its point.
So let’s start by asking a question –“Which image best portrays a church?”
Which one did you pick? By the conversations of most Christians it would appear to be the building. We talk about “going to church.” We ask people to “Come to our church.” More often than not when you go to the website or worship bulletin of a dying church you will see the picture of a church building featured. In many churches people are so tied to their building that they cant bear the thought of relocating. I was in one church where they had just had a major squabble over removing a row of pews that were no longer needed.
In our hearts we say we know the building isn’t the church. We know that. Only a fool would think differently. But if the statement “Actions speak louder than words” we are really fooling ourselves. Our actions and statements reveal what we really believe and most of our actions and statements say we believe the church building to be a holy.
The first century Jews had the same problem. They believed the Holy of Holies in the Temple to be the place where God especially lived. It was considered so holy that only the High Priest was allowed in on Yom Kippur after sanctifying himself. The Holy of Holies was covered by a veil, and once a year the High Priest would enter to offer the blood of sacrifice and incense before the mercy seat. But then came Jesus and tore the veil signifying that God was everywhere.
But we still haven’t really “got it.” Even though Jesus died to free us from ministry located in a holy place we still refer to the place where we worship as “the sanctuary,” referring to place where we worship as sacred. Many established churches still have signs pointing to “the sanctuary,” whereas most thriving new churches use the term “Worship Center.” Our terms speak volumes. When will we ever learn? We are our own worst enemy.
Our role as Christians is to “be” church not “to church.” It’s not about “doing” church better but “being” church better. So what does it mean to “be” the church?
Being church means that real ministry begins after we leave worship. Worship is what prepares us to be the church. But being the church doesn’t end when we leave the building. We become the church when we leave the building to be God’s hands and feet.
When I was a pastor, we had a sign over the exits of the Worship Center that said “Leave to serve.” Let’s face it – we are the only hands and feet God has and God wants us to use them for His glory just like Jesus did. We are now the everyday sacrifice, not some dumb animal once a year. When we think of the church as a building we are actually throwing the Gospel in God’s face and blaspheming the work of Jesus.
NEVER, EVER put a picture of your building on anything. Put people; put the cross; put your mission statement, anything but the building. It speaks volumes to our kids. Remember the footprints and let God walk in them with you.
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