Why are the places and groups I’ve experienced that were the most like the CHURCH that I see in the Bible adamant about saying “We are not a church!” and the churches that I’ve been to that say “Come to church” aren’t anything like what I see in the Bible? Why is this basic unit of Christian people such a hard thing to pin down, and why is it so warped today? I’m going to focus on what really stands out in a few groups I’ve been in that made it more like what the Bible says than what people say.
One element is a sense of community. There is a difference between hanging out for the sake of the Lord and having a bunch of activities. Times that I’d say I experienced real church would be the times that people came together often with no agenda or goal, but only to be together and as a result talk about Jesus. When Jesus becomes the topic, goal, and life of a group of individual people, He becomes the life of the group as well. It’s those times that the people just wanted to be together and talk about Jesus that I feel like I experienced church.
Now we all know people that are zealous – or at least make themselves look zealous on Facebook. The times in my life that I have really seen God move through people and situations and use people from the least to the greatest was when they came together and shared the same zeal for God. Not saying they were all equally righteous or equally religious, but equally hungry and desperate for God to work in their lives. I’m not saying it’s broken if you have people that are unsure or uncommitted, but if the majority of the group isn’t committed to Jesus in the same way, it shows, and a lot of times the lack of commitment wins out.
Have you ever visited or volunteered for an organization and then read their mission statement and feel all confused? “That’s what I’ve been doing? No,
I’ve been doing this other thing, but that mission statement doesn’t really fit with what I thought they did here.” I’ve been thinking a lot about de facto mission statements and purposes vs. the published and posted statements. Churches that act like churches haven’t needed a mission statement. I never once wonder if these people are really here for their amazing building, their talented worship band, or the great name they are making for themselves in their city. The funny part is, these groups I’ve experienced have an idea or a definition of what church is, and for whatever reason, don’t want to be confused with being called one. They have had a laser focus on being closer to Jesus, to living life according to Him at every moment, but at the same time deny being called “The presence of Jesus among people on earth” (loose paraphrase of how Neil Cole defines the church). You don’t hear them promoting a fundraiser, but the money is always there. I’ve never heard them ask for volunteers, but all of the work is done.
De Facto Ecclesiology
So maybe we need to talk about de facto ecclesiology vs. actual ecclesiology. Maybe we need to talk about all of our vision talk vs. the reality of people being worn out with vision talk. At the same time, I’m facing the reality of asking “Do I really want to be a part of a church? And by church I mean the real deal. Are any of us ready to be a part of the joy and sacrifice of the real Church?”
Every day they continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts, breaking bread from house to house, sharing their food with glad and humble hearts, https://www.youversion.com/bible/107/act.2.net