Sunday, November 9, 2008

What is the Church supposed to look like?

I'm not sure. And I'm certainly not any real authority to how this is all supposed to be and look like. But I do think I have caught a glimpse.

I remember when I first came into the faith I was so excited as I read the Bible. It electrified me in a way I cannot explain in words. I literally felt on fire as I read through the pages for the first real time in my life. I wrote down Scriptures and put them on my wall with a feeling of deep passion and reverence. I read through Acts in awe at people who could live with such faith that it often took their very lives.

And then I went to church.

It didn't take me very long to figure out that the pages I read at home didn't really seem to match up with what I saw on Sunday mornings. Everything seemed so official. So... pretend. I remember feeling like when we left the building, God left too. We sang about God, talked about God, and prayed to God at church. But where was He in our homes I wondered?

It seemed like God was a very interesting relative we went to visit once a week. We had a good time and everything, but He had no lasting effect on the way we lived, spoke, and treated people. Where was this fire I felt from the Scriptures? It was drowned in church.

I know I must sound very harsh and critical, but I love the Church. Because the Church is people. It's made of people like me who love Jesus like all get out, but we are not contained by buildings. When I criticize the "church" I don't mean the people who are the Church, but the form it has become.

In many places the church (little 'c') has become a one hour a week thing. Many churches have people paid full time salaries who are dedicated to Sunday morning alone. It is "show time". There are preachers, pastors, worship ministers, youth ministers, family ministers, pulpit ministers, orchestra ministers, secretaries and so on. I'm not saying hiring ministers is a bad thing. I am one. However, in many places we have hired professional Christians.

I cannot even express how much that hurts me to think about. We have people hired to evangelize, teach, serve, love, be Jesus. But the Church is Jesus. We can't hire people to be Jesus for us.

Sometimes I like to read ads of churches looking for ministers. Many want him to teach every Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, do all the personal Bible studies, visit all the sick and widows, plan the evangelism, and more. I've read many of them, looking over the loads of responsibilities they want and think, "Could Jesus Himself do all that?" We pay professionals to be Jesus for us, and that is wrong.

But we're all supposed to be trying to follow Jesus. There's no "upper management" in the body of Jesus. We're all important. I want to do full-time ministry, but not because I wouldn't do it otherwise. I passionately want to know Jesus and be like Him, and I have a strong desire to spend as much time as I can in ministry. But if I still worked at Subway, I'd still be just as valuable as any paid clergy in the Church.

Oh, how I wish we saw ourselves this way. I want to do mission work in a foreign country, but I'm a missionary every day. When we go to school, work, or wherever else we are sent to be missionaries to whomever we come across.

Well, I don't want write a whole chapter on a blog so I think I'll continue this line of thought into however many entries it will take.



Paul said...

So, what do you think the Church should look like? Or more importantly, what do you think God thinks the Church should look like? I look forward to your future posts as you unwrap these questions.

Joshua Tucker said...

Paul - Yeah I started writing and I realized I had a lot more to say before I got to that question. Thanks for posting bro. I'm going to keep up with your blog too.

Paul Ford said...

Those are some very valid questions you got going on there. I too see some very distinct differences with my own faith, and with the church that I am a member.
What bothers me the most some times is the section in Acts 2 - where they sold their possesions and brought the proceeds to the apostles feet, and "had all things in common". Wow!!! That's a giving church. What great sacrifice. Keep it up.

Paul Ford

doug young said...

You are not alone in your thoughts. I understand and possess similar concerns. Am looking forward to more.

David Creek said...

Very well said, brother.

Yeah, in many places the hired staff expected to do the work is indeed a sad reality.

And its sad because we're seeing many people noticing these problems and these inconsistencies and thinking the answer is to become just like the denominations.

While i certainly admire the joy found in most denominations, we aren't called to imitate denominations and do things so we can look and sound just like everyone else.

The answer is the Apostolic pattern we see in Scripture. What they taught in one place they taught in every place. They didn't worship God a certain way in one room and worship Him a completely different way in another room. It was united just as Christ had prayed for (Acts 2:44; 4:32).

Though many of us realize what the pattern and the blueprint is, we certainly need to get more serious about living it out.

Not an easy thing to do but then again, what's impossible with our Lord?

Thanks again for this post.

Joshua Tucker said...

Paul Ford - Yeah I totally agree. I want to be more giving with my possessions, really acting like a family.

Doug - Thanks for the post, I'm looking forward to more discussions too.

David - I appreciate your comment. What do you mean by "becoming like the denominations?" Just curious. I agree that the Bible lays out how we are to be, and I'm afraid many of our traditions and methods do not come from the Bible. Hope to hear more input on coming posts.

David said...

I'm sorry for being vague. It was mostly a reference to many brothers and sisters noticing the inconsistencies in the Church believing the answer is leaving and going to denominational churches.

Though I don't blame them for leaving places where non-inspired traditions are being commanded and expected as if they WERE inspired commandments of God, I was simply saying that going to denominations is not the answer.

We know that there is only one body (Eph. 4:4) which is the Church (Eph. 1:22, Col. 1:18).

Yet denominationalism teaches that there is one head but many different bodies when in truth, there is one body (THE Church - those who believe, have confessed Jesus is Lord, who have repented of their sins, who have been baptized into the possession of Jesus for the forgiveness of those sins and for the gift of the Spirit and those who continue steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and who walk in the Light" and one head (Christ).

And yet the Church is made up of people. We're weak. We're imperfect. And as you said so well, we have quite a ways to go to where the first century Church was (evangelism, fellowship, The Lord's Supper, but most of all, unity).

And when it comes to unity we can never unite on the creeds or the traditions of men or anything men brought in.

Jesus didn't pray that all those who merely believe in Him to be one. Jesus prayed that all those who believed in Him through "THEIR" word would be one (John 17:20) and we see what they taught (Acts 2:41 "those who received "his" word - Peter's word) and what happened when the Church continued steadfastly in their doctrine (Acts 2:42-47; 4:32). Their word WAS the Word of God (John 14:26; 2 Peter 1:21).

So that's what i had in mind when i said that. We have the blueprint in God's Word and we see that in the establishment of the Church, the apostolic pattern, and what true Christianity is.

And amen also to what you said about preachers who are only in it for Sunday. As I've personally found that's the EASY part of it! Most of the responsibility is getting out there and living it and making disciples!

Take a look at this clip. I thought you would like this. Thanks again for your thoughts on here, brother. They are encouraging and very inspiring.

alisha dawn said...

It's true.
That is a struggle for us! That post goes good with the letter you wrote the aimers. Hope they get to read it. We are so content in liking Jesus. Sometimes I think people don't realize there is more.
Man now I want to share that! How awesome it is to truly love Jesus and not be of the world.

David said...

That's a great blog! What do we need to unwrap? Ephesians 4! Why are we teaching homiletics and exegetic principals in cemetery when we should be equipping the church?

The church is more than people, it is relationships.

Yes, I agree, it is all very professional. I am glad that I am a armature!