Defining "The Church"

As you know, I've been reading "The Unstoppable Force" by Erwin McManus.  It is a book about "the church."  The principles, thoughts and ideas presented in this book have been so refreshing for me to read.  I was sharing some concepts from this book with a friend saying, "The principles and ideas in this book would be great for you BUT the book is about the church..."    However, as the words slipped out of my mouth, I felt the Holy Spirit putting on the brakes and He was asking me, "Wait a minute, what exactly is "the church"?"

You see, as I've stopped to ask this question over the last couple of years, the Lord has been blowing up my nice Christian boxes.  My former definition (as expressed through my language and how I lived my life): church is the gathering of believers on Sunday mornings.  My new definition: "Where two or three are gathered in His name, there He is (Matthew 18:20)."

If you've been around Sunday gatherings for awhile you've heard this story come out of the preacher's mouth:

"On Sunday mornings everyone hops into the car, the husband,
wife and children have been fighting, but the minute they enter 
church on goes the happy faces." 

We sit in the pews, chuckle and nod with a knowing expression.  We know that it is easy to smile at the pastor on Sunday and it's easy to love people that we only rub shoulders with for 2 hours once a week.  But it is an entirely different story, to live with the concept that where two or three are gathered in His name, there He is.  If you will allow this to be the definition of church then when does church primarily happen?  For most, the answer will be, in our families. Would you have treated your kids and husband that same way in the front of "the church"?  If your answer is no, my next question would be, why not?  Is it because you are seeking the approval of man or that your accountable to God when you enter the building because that is where His presence is?  Because it's not as if God is sitting in the "church building" on Sunday waiting for you to show up and put on your "everything is great smile."  He LIVES in you 24/7 by the way.  So when you are at home, with your family, sitting around the dinner table, not in your Sunday best, there He is.  You are having church. 

Just this week, I had "church" at a waterpark.  Perhaps you think I'm being slightly sacrilegious when I say that it was one of the best "church" experiences I've had in a long time.  But floating down the lazy river, we were sharing our hearts, our struggles, encouraging one another in the faith and giving each other the hope to carry on.  Sitting in a pew Sunday after Sunday, shoulder to shoulder does not create osmosis of the Spirit.  How am I to know my neighbor's marriage is falling apart or that a mother is at her wits end and REALLY needs help through a smile and ashake of each other's hands 3 seconds before the sermon? 
I would like to leave you with this quote from Erwin, (People mistake Sunday gatherings to be a place where we) "Come to meet God INSTEAD of coming WITH God to meet each other.  (In addition), many come to worship God instead of coming worshipping." 

For myself personally, during this time of transitional thinking, I am being very intentional about my words.  For me it is a distinction that I need to make in order to bring what I believe in mind and heart out into how I live my life.  When I use the word, "CHURCH" it will be referring to every believer living life with each other any day of the week.  "Sunday gatherings" is my terminology for the traditional gathering of believers on Sunday mornings in a building.

In Christ,

1 comment:

  1. thecoffeecottageSeptember 02, 2011

    Bravo! BRAVO!!!! Amen and Amen!!!! I absolutely 110% understand and apply your thought process. It is quite a revolution, and sometimes disconcerting and disorienting, to allow one's understanding to be changed....but it is SO worth it, and so internally refreshing to realize that we ARE the church.

    My husband has a t-shirt that makes me nervous when he wears it out in public, especially Christian public : The front reads: "Don't go to church" and on the back? "BE the church".  (Not promoting NOT going on Sunday morning, but instigating the thought that it's not about GOING but BEING.

    LOVE this post!!! I Shall have to share!


Daily Prayer

Disqus for For His Glory Alone


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...