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The Importance of the Church

February 2, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

It’s been three weeks since I’ve posted here. I’ve posted almost every other day on Run 4 Haiti with the recent earthquake. Head over there if you’re out of the loop about the mission I work with. Lots of updates on the page.

Last week I started a new 6 week series with my youth on the church. For a long time, I had struggled with the importance of the church – not so much in the sense of where I wanted to do my own thing, but really as to what the Bible says about being a part of a local church. 

Let me first say that I disagree completely with the notion that the traditional way of doing things is automatically the best. I don’t mind doing things traditionally, and in fact, I prefer some things to be done traditionally, but I have come to realize that all of those things are simply traditions.

For instance, why is Sunday morning worship usually beginning later in the morning? 10-11am? Because the 11 o’clock hour was originally chosen to accommodate the milking schedule of dairy farmers. So, it’s stuck. This doesn’t bother me, but it’s an illustration that will be referenced later.

So, what does the Bible say about the church?

Well, let’s look at what Christ says about the church. In Matthew 16:13-20 we see Christ talking to Peter and saying that He will build His church on this rock (read: Not establishing Peter as the first Pope). Whether building the church on the rock means on the faith that Peter exhibited, or through the future actions of Peter as a follower of Christ (see Acts 2:14-36 & Acts 10), we do see that through the action of faith and the messages of Peter that a gathering of believers begins to build.

These local gatherings (Greek ekklesia) is simply that. A local gathering of believers. It means “those called out.” Thus, it’s a local gathering of believers that have been called out from a life of sin.

So if Christ is going to build His church, we find ownership which is then reiterated through Paul in Ephesians.

  1. Ephesians 2:19-20: Paul establishes the point that Christ is the cornerstone of the church. The foundation of the church is the prophet’s teaching and the apostle’s teaching. What do these teachings focus upon? Christ. Who is the cornerstone. And the cornerstone of a building is that very first stone that every other stone is placed into line because of. Everything else is where it is because of the cornerstone.

    Thus, I’m sensing this whole church thing is a little bit bigger than just a local building where you go to get encouraged. 
     

  2. Ephesians 1:19-23: Paul says that Christ is the head of the church. This means there must be a body, to which Paul also agrees. The body is the church – that gathering of believers that is called out. It the assembly and gathering of believers is his body, then it shows we as Christians should be meeting with others who area also part of the body. A body is unified. There are no amputees in the body of Christ – you have no choice but to be a part. Likewise, in Ephesians 3:10-11, we see that the church is supposed to proclaim the message of God through Jesus Christ. This is a huge indicator that there’s an aspect of being a part of the church there.
  3. Ephesians 3:20-21: Here’s the part that really messed me up. The glory that God received is supposed to come through His church. That means we’re expected to be living our lives individually as well as in a group and the ultimate goal is to bring God glory.

All of these things essentially cry out to me: This is not about me!

I’m very guilty of making church about me. “Man, I didn’t enjoy the sermon this morning.” This is not about me! “That music was pretty boring this morning!” This is not about me! “Sunday School was a drag!” This is not about me! “I don’t feel like going today!” This is not about me! “I really hope the message this morning encourages me and isn’t about sin or something else!” This is not about me!

We can all relate. I mean, if I had a dollar for every Sunday night that I just wanted to stay at home, relax, and watch football, then I would probably own an NFL team to watch live. But, when the body of believers comes together, something special happens if we let it. We can glorify God through out time and effort in church. The messages we preach, the songs we sing, the fellowship we have, the service that we give to others, and the Gospel we present can all bring glory to God our father.

But that’s where our focus must be placed. Church was never intended to be about us. Church was never intended for someone to go up and give a message that makes someone who is having a crappy day suddenly have a good one. Now, don’t misquote me, because that is a part of church. When the Word of God is preached, I believe that it has the power to encourage the gloomiest day and change everything that needs to be changed. But I also know, that the moment someone walks into church looking for something that is to benefit them, and they walk out disappointed, then they’ve missed the entire purpose of the church. Why? This is not about me!

So, why do you go to church each Sunday? Do you go for you, or do you go for the benefit and glory of our God?

Yes, we go to learn. Yes, we go to sing. But through our learning and through our singing, the result is not that we go home feeling like we can put a check mark because now God is pleased, but instead, the result is that all glory and honor is given to the One Who reigns in heaven.

The moment that church becomes about us is the moment that the church has missed its main purpose.

For the next five weeks, we’ll be clicking through the Purpose Driven Church “5 purposes of the church” that are Discipleship, Fellowship, Ministry, Worship, and Evangelism. 

But, those five aspects are worthless to God if we just do them for our benefit. Everything we do should bring glory to God as a church. Whether it means that we’re meeting at 11 o’clock or it means that the church is meeting at 8 o’clock in the morning. Whether it means that we’re singing traditional hymns or we’re singing a blended style incorporating hymns and modern praise songs. Whether it means we read from the King James Version or we read from the English Standard Version. 

The church is not about us.

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  1. September 1, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    Pagan Christianity? by Frank Viola & George Barna is a great read on the origin and history of the modern church. And how the early church(1st, 2nd century) looked and operated.

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