What is church? This is one of those questions that has plagued me for a number of years, but the last few months it seems to be all I can focus on. It’s important to me to understand what the bible teaches about the church and its purpose. Finding one of these to call home is my new mission.
The church where I grew up always reminded me of a hug. I wanted to be there. Many Sundays you could find a number of us teenagers just sitting around visiting with the older members of the church (setting up for the coffee hour 😉 - nothing formal; instead just a sharing and building of relationships that helped form my life.
Weekends were usually spent hanging out at one member’s house or another. Some Saturdays, it was breakfast (that usually stretched into lunch); other days it was an afternoon gathering that included a campfire and a sing along.
The church was quaint, and loving, and a retreat.
There are different theories as to what happened to the unity of this church. I was still young when it began to disintegrate. By the time I came home from college, it was a new building and a new church. And my search for a new home began.
It’s been a struggle, mainly because I wasn’t completely sure of what I was looking for in a church. Understanding the biblical concept of church is not as easy as you might think.
There is not a step by step (1, 2, and 3) guide to being a church. The guides are much like walking a good, focused life - kind of left up to interpretation. That’s fine when it’s just me, but church is everybody. How on earth do I find a place where everybody agrees on who and what is church.
This morning in my quiet time, I read something that struck home. It said that the church has three main missions:
- To exalt (magnify and glorify the Lord)
To evangelize (reach out to the world)
To edify (come together to worship, share, encourage, pray, teach, and to help each other grow to full maturity in Christ)
Writing this out (for the second time this morning) it dawns on me that most services try to cram all of this into one hour long meeting (commonly known as “church”). It’s no wonder there are so many people starving, in the church as much as in the world. The needs and desires aren’t being met. Instead of turning to the church, they turn to the schools or the rec centers or clubs to try and fill the voids that have been left open.
Not that this realization brings me any closer to discovering church and finding a home where I can plant myself and my family. It’s not like I can go into our local church and tell them that they’ve got it all wrong (not that it is ALL wrong, just MOSTLY wrong). The concept of church being more than Sundays or Wednesdays is foreign to most Americans. “We’ve Never Done It That Way, Before.”
All is not lost. If God puts the idea and picture into my head, I know that He will find a way to work it all out. Until that time, we will continue to search and hope and practice church from home as much as possible. Maybe that’s what was intended all along.