My friend was getting ready to preach a sermon and we were throwing around ideas about what he could preach on as we were driving to Los Angeles.
As we were sharing ideas, a thought came to me: are we more concerned in being a member of the church over being a Christian?
I told him about how Tony Campolo once opened a sermon with something like:
1) There are millions of children dying from hunger
2) You don’t give a f–k
3) You’re more concerned with the fact that I just said the f-word.
I think he has a good point there. Some times, I think we’re more concerned with being prim and proper over being a Christian.
Sometimes, as a church, we’re more concerned with who is attending, who is not attending, the appearance of someone, the numbers/budgets that accompany ministry, the state of the building, the cleanliness of the campus, the political correctness, what the bible says, what the bible doesn’t say, the food that is being served, the lack of coffee, the brand of donuts, the style of worship, the color of the carpet, where the chairs need to go, lack of parking, the overuse of perfume by someone, and so forth.
Granted, a lot of this are valid, valid concerns.
But, often times, we focus too much on ourselves. And we forget one of our calls: to help people in the name of Christ. Yea, we help ourselves, but Jesus also said that the pagans and tax collectors love those who love them back.
Sometimes, I’m embarrassed about how petty we can get over being a member of a church.
There are some churches that would send their people to a special event to hear someone at another church speak, but the whole time as the preacher preaches, they’re going through their bible and dissecting everything the speaker says that doesn’t agree with THEIR theology. Some even go up to the speaker to “correct” him/her. Really? Is that necessary? It’s not like their preaching heretical things… Wouldn’t that energy and effort be better spent in helping the community that surrounds us?
Does being right to you matter SO MUCH that you’ll rather be right than being Jesus to someone in your neighborhood?
Some of us, we’re so in love with the church, that’s all we can see. We’d do anything for that church. Give all the money and time we possibly can. That’s awesome! But, sometimes, we’re so much in love with that church that we sort of wear blinders, and can’t see anything beyond that church.
And some of our churches are in survival mode. Our future is bleak, our finances low. If we’re in survival mode, it’s natural to make sure that we’re okay, and that majority of our energy and time is focused on how to stay alive, having enough funds so that our church building still stands. At a conference in Ginghamsburg Church, it was repeated over and over that the mission of a church is not the maintenance of a building, something that I fully agreed with. At the same conference, they talked about a church that they took over. Their main focus was serving the needs of the community around them, a community that was poor, broken and where people were constantly moving in and out, because they couldn’t afford rent. One of the first things they did was walk around the neighborhood, praying for them and asking what the neighbors may need from the church. Then they started to a breakfast ministry on Sunday morning for their neighbors, and a good breakfast at that: bacon, pancakes, omelette stations. Because they were reaching out to their neighborhood, it inspired the neighbors, and some of them actually started attending the church and started serving at that church. A church that barely had 40 members now has nearly quadrupled their Sunday attendance. But more importantly they serve hundreds and hundreds more in their community every week. (About 400 people are served at their Sunday morning breakfast).
At this point, I’m rambling.
We have to stop letting small and petty things get in the way of being a Christian. It’s more important to be part of the Body of Christ, than a member of a church. Instead of preaching love, I think it’s time we start spreading love. Instead of preaching grace, I think it’s time we start showing grace. Instead of preaching forgiveness, I think it’s time we practice it.
Instead of being a member of a particular church, we should be more active members of the kingdom of God.