I am so tired of fights about church. We laud spirituality over “religion.” Face it, Christianity is a religion. Nothing wrong with religion. What’s wrong is when we get lost, when the world only sees hypocrisy and a disconnect with daily life.
I was recently at a meeting where we talked about conflict in the church. The answer was to bring in people from the outside to referee. No, the answer is to be faithful, to follow the clear and practical words from Matthew 18 – the words of Jesus himself. If there is injury between you and someone, seek reconciliation with them. Take responsibility.
It’s time for the church to be the church. When we have destructive conflict, we fix it. When we are irrelevant, we start listening. It seems like we are apologizing as church these days. Rather, we need to show clearly what the precious body of Christ is to the world.
Should one “go to church?” What that means is to ask the question of whether to participate in a faith community and worship. We like to say we don’t have to go to church to be a Christian these days. That, too, is the wrong approach. Unapologetically, we boldly proclaim the two things that make participating in a Christian faith community the best option out of so many in our culture.
First, Jesus says he is the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus offers the very best way to live an earthly life. Love God and others. You receive the fruit of the Spirit – awesome things like joy and peace. You find these opportunities nowhere else than through the body of Christ – the church. That alone should be reason enough to put following Jesus at the top of your “to-do” list.
But there is also a second thing the church offers. Salvation. Eternity. Heaven. Jesus says no one comes to the Father except through him. That is a serious and sobering statement. Our culture wants to believe we can each make up our own journey – that there are many roads to eternal bliss. Jesus doesn’t agree. If you want eternity, welcome to the body of Christ; the people who follow Jesus; the church.
There is a need to offer people all sorts of gentle ways into church community. They are a means to an end. They are not the focus. The issue is not to have the best praise band in town. The bottom line is not to have the coolest youth program. The goal is to usher people into the life transforming presence of God.
It seems to me that we can get lost in the details of ministry and miss pointing people to the reason for choosing this day whom you shall serve. Church offers the best earthly life possible. Church offers eternal joy.
We plant and water the seeds of faith. Then the Spirit of God works on people’s hearts. Let’s make sure that we are clear about why we are the church. We love people and leave the rest to God.
At The Effective Church Group, we love to come alongside churches to discern what it looks like for each congregation to pave the path to faith. It seems like pastors may be reluctant to pursue a church consultation, that it shows weakness. To this, we say let’s be the church together – a sign of the strength which comes from following Jesus alone.