“One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organization do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always.” – A. W. Tozer
1. Church is optional.
Ah, the lone believer, hell-bent on staying out of a church community for one reason or another. They were burned, chastised or mistreated. And I get it. I, too, was a solo “Christian” trying to call a five-minute quiet time and a snippet of Scripture “church.” I know what it is to be community-less and long for (but never actually believe it could happen) a spiritual family, where brethren would lay down their life for one another—reminiscent of the book of Acts. Oh yeah, but then, through a series of painful life-altering events (another post for another time), I came to see church was not optional because, I was, in fact, the church. When scripture refers to the church as “the house of God,” “the Body of Christ,” “Christ’s bride,” it is referencing a people. The ekklesia, in Greek. It is not a place or a building, which leads me to …
2. We go to church.
Those in the church have long believed we go to church. But, as stated above, if we are the church, then this can’t actually be true. We don’t actually go to church on Sunday. What we do instead is assemble where other members of the church happen to be, and we usually sit in a pew and listen to someone preach from the pulpit. This is not church. You are the church.
3. The church exists to reach the lost and unsaved.
It was not so long ago the Lord really clarified this point for me. In the Christian culture of “doing social justice,” “living missionally” and “loving the unlovely,” it becomes easy to view the church as a vehicle in which to reach the unsaved. However, this is not the primary function or purpose of the church. The church exists for the believer—to equip, edify and empower the saints. To manifest the body and life of Jesus Christ. I know this might rub some people the wrong way, but if so, I encourage you to re-examine the scriptures. You may be surprised. I was.
4. A small group or Bible study is a perfectly acceptable replacement for “church.”
Oh, I fell hard for this lie. I remember pastors enthusiastically telling me if I had to choose between Sunday morning service and my weekly small group, I was to choose the latter. My small group, as it was explained to me, was actually church. Those pastors … they were trying. What they meant, or should have meant, was a small group was more like church. But there was one big problem. We wrongly think …
5. Hanging out with a group of individuals, just like us, is church.
Sadly, what small groups, home groups and many Bible studies have taught people is a group of our peers gathered together is church. When Jesus refers to the “family of God,” I don’t think a twenty-somethings Wednesday night fellowship/hangout/thing is what He had in mind. Families are made up of all kinds of people in all stages of life. There are moms and dads, brothers and sister, infants, cousins and even a few loud-mouthed crazy uncles (you know who you are). Church is, and should be, all of us. All the time.
6. We must grow the church.
In the consumer-driven, “bigger is better” culture we find ourselves in, many Christians have come to falsely believe it is our responsibility to build the church. We think we do the growing. But, 1 Cor. 3 teaches that, while some of us plant and others water, it is God who causes it to grow. We are “coworkers belonging to God,” allowed to fully in building His church. God is responsible … and I find that comforting.