Church as we know it in the West isn’t working; I don’t mean people don’t enjoy themselves (as that seems to be the main directive), some do. What I am talking about is our prime directive to go into all the world and make disciples, our current understanding of church is most certainly failing in this respect. It was this understanding that caused me to make such a radical shift of direction in my life. Whilst I really don’t have all the answers I feel I am closer to what Jesus had in mind when He said ‘church’ than when I ‘pastoring’.
Myth – “an unproved or false collective belief that is used to justify a social institution.” Dictionary.com
John Maxwell (who told me that he is my friend) says that “everything rises and falls on leadership”, and you know what? He is absolutely right. Everything from our schools to our homes, from our businesses to our sports teams need to be led – The thing is what should church leadership really look like. Does the Bible give any clues, should we be like a corporation or is that the very opposite of what the Jesus had in mind? Read more
We have all heard it again and again, following Jesus is a relationship and not a religion – To this I say a hearty “amen”. The thing is how does this pan out in our daily living, do we ‘follow Jesus in the way’ or ‘visit Him on a Sunday’? Ironically, the very thing that advertises as being a help can actually be very detrimental to following after the Lord Jesus; I am of course talking about church. Read more
There is much conjecture as to how and when we will witness the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. The thing is we are about 2,000 years too late; God has fully rebuilt the temple and it has become a house of prayer for all nations.
Now I know I might be treading on some toes and I don’t pretend to be an authority on the ‘End Times’, but hear me out.
What did Jesus say?
After turning the tables and freeing the animals in the Gentile Court, the Jews demanded to know by whose authority Jesus created such chaos. His response is fascinating:
“Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” John 2:19
Jesus is being very deliberate in His words, He knew the Jews would think He meant the building they were standing in, but verse 21 tells us that He was speaking of His body. The question then is why would He say this and leave the Jews believing something different?
Jesus didn’t speak much of the church in the Gospels but when He did, He said He would build it and it would have authority over the resistance of hell as well as the ability to self govern. Over the last couple of years or so, I have been asking the Lord what did He see when He said church. His answer has turned my understanding upside down… or should I say the right way up?
Having given three articles over to why I don’t want to go to church, I now want to take a more positive approach as to what church is and why I want to be totally involved. A contradiction? No, not really because there is church and then there is church. 😉
Why do I seem so negative about church? After all this is my third blog about not wanting to go to church; what is my beef with it all? The truth is I have no end of positive things to say about church life; I am excited about what is happening in the church communities I am involved in but I do believe that I need to ‘sell’ what I see as major problems before offering any solutions. More simply put, if we didn’t know we smelled bad we wouldn’t buy soap would we?
Here’s something I have noticed and have been guilty of over the years. Have you ever seen how many people dress up for church? Or have you heard the phrase ‘church suit’? This describes the clothes people keep for church; their best dress, smart suit etc. In fact there are retailers who specialise in church outfits; these are clothes that are especially designed for going to church in; let’s face it some of the hats I have seen wouldn’t be legal anywhere else but in church. At the risk of sounding petty, dressing up for church is a symptom that tells us something has gone very wrong. I would say it suggests that we are pursuing religious aspirations rather than being satisfied with simply following Jesus. What I mean by religious is either an attempt to appease God through our efforts (special behaviour demanding special clothes) or a moral based spirituality that I rely on to prove to myself and others that I am better than them (being this morally superior I need to be wearing better clothes).
Before we start let me say something about myself: I am a born again, Spirit filled, blood washed, Bible believing, Jesus following, Devil resisting, child of the living God. By His grace I have been sanctified, justified, liberated, adopted, proposed to and I am waiting for the appearing of Jesus and the resurrection of my body to be like His glorious body. My point? I am a believer, a Jesus follower; I don’t think I am backslidden or have grown cold (no more than before anyway) and I truly believe that Jesus is the answer to mankind’s terminal sin.
Why say all that? Because of my views on what the church is you could be tempted to think that I have been shipwrecked or have lost the faith; these couldn’t be further from the truth. Jesus is alive! His kingdom is among us, if you are a believer His Spirit is in you and you have been delivered from the wrath of God that is to come. We have some very good news to share.
In my mind there is a difference between being the church, (God’s people on earth and in heaven) and going to church (a religious exercise sometimes attached to self-righteousness and a sense of well-being). As I have progressed in my journey I have come to question many of the things I used to take for granted, including the habit of church going.
Of course I am not against people going to church but I am questioning the reasons behind it and how effective it is in bringing the people of God to maturity; it is probably worth noting that I have been a ‘pastor’ for over ten years, I have planted two works and have preached in any number of churches around the world, I am forty eight years old, married with two married sons and two daughters at home. Along with my wife I oversee two Christian schools as well as the churches and I am asking the question “why would I go to church?”
Over the last few years my world has been turned upside down when it comes to church and what we mean when we say church.
After all we can ‘go to church‘, we can be ‘church goers‘, we ‘visit churches‘, we raise money for ‘church buildings‘ we can feel bored whilst we are ‘at church’, we can feel better after ‘we have been to church’, and we can insist on a certain standard of behaviour whilst we are ‘in church’. Of course we can add to this list the special clothes we might wear, or the particular words we say, and what about the music, the songs, the hierarchy, the order of service, the money, our favourite seats and the funny way the preacher says God?