Monday, September 21, 2009

What Is Church About?

Before I share my answer with you, I'd really invite you to wrestle with this question... What is church about? If you're reading this blog, I'm assuming that you go to church, you're part of a church, you belong to a church. So this should be easy. What is church about?

Think about it. Write it out--it helps to make things clear in our minds when we write them down. OK, have you done that yet? No? Then why are you still reading? I'm serious--write down the answer to this question: What is church about? (Don't worry, I'll wait for you...)





OK, have you done that yet? See, here's what I think. I think your answer more than likely sounds something like this:

  • Church is about learning about God and Jesus.
  • Church is about worship and learning more about the Bible.
  • Church is where we go to find out what we're supposed to believe.

Now, maybe not. Maybe I'm all wrong here. But I think I'm right. I think this is the answer that I'd get from 90+% of church-goers. And that is a crippling indictment of us as Christians, on a couple of fronts:

  1. Church is never about where we go. The church is not a building you enter, it's a group of people you belong to. In the Bible, the church is a family, a flock, a body, a bride, a fellowship, but never a literal building. And just like in a family, in a flock, in a body, we belong to each other. Romans 12:5 says, "Each member belongs to all the others." So whatever church is about, it's about belonging to other people.
  2. Church is never about Sundays. If "church" is a group of people we belong to, we belong to them all the time--in the exact same way that you don't cease to belong to your family just because you head separate ways during the day. To say that church is about Sunday morning worship services is like saying that family is about sleeping under the same roof at night, or eating dinner together (if your family does that). Those may be things that happen in a family--even fairly important things--but that's a pretty poor description of what family is all about.
  3. Church is not really about learning. Now, again, maybe learning is something that happens in a church (hopefully so!), but church is not like school. Church is not an educational institution. The Bible tells us that "knowledge puffs up, but love builds up" (1 Cor. 8:1 NIV). Knowledge for knowledge's sake is useless, less than worthless. In fact, "If I... can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing" (1 Cor. 13:2 NIV). Let me say it again--CHURCH IS NOT ABOUT LEARNING!!!

So what is church about? One thing. There is only one reason the church exists. There is only one reason to belong to a church. There is only one reason to serve in a church. There is only one reason to believe in the church. There is only one reason to worship with the church. And that reason is this:

Life. Change.

That's it. Nothing else. We are in the business of allowing God to change our lives, and letting him use us to change the lives of others. And we join together to support and challenge one another on this journey of life change, as we all head in the same direction, so that we can all get there because we could never make it on our own--it's way too hard.

And if we don't understand this, we don't really understand anything about the Christian faith. If we don't grasp this, we may not even really have a relationship with Jesus at all. And I'm not exaggerating even slightly.

Church is about life change.

And so the only kind of knowledge that counts for anything is the knowledge that changes your life. If you learn something, and change as a result, that's good. If you learn something and don't change, you were better off not even learning it in the first place. Way too many Christians are educated beyond their obedience.

As we've said endlessly (and we'll keep saying it), Pathway Community Church exists to meet people where they are on their spiritual journeys and lead them to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. We meet them where they are, but we don't let them stay there--we lead them to a new place. That's life change. And that's not just for the people "out there"; it's for us "in here" too. In fact, we can't do diddly squat "out there" until we allow God to do his work "in here." If our lives are untransformed, we have absolutely nothing to offer this world. We operate with no power. We model a false gospel.

As we implement this simple process throughout our church, there's only one reason behind it--life change.

  • Reaching Up/Worship Services are about life change.
  • Reaching Over/Small Groups are about life change.
  • Reaching Out/Ministry Teams are about life change.

This whole process is about one thing--helping you cooperate with God to let him change your life. If you're happy with your life exactly the way it is and don't want to change anything, you're in open rebellion against God, and you're going to find yourself more and more uncomfortable with the direction our church is moving. And that's only right, because the only thing church is about is life change.

1 comment:

Pastor Scott said...

I came across this and thought it tied in very nicely with this post.