Updated: Apr 24, 2022
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I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. John 14:12 NLT
Confession: I used to be very anxious going to church. I cannot sing (at least I'm not willing to do so publicly). I do not shout or dance (at least not the churchy way). I don't wear churchy clothes (still cute but not really fancy). I do not pray like everyone else (or so i thought). I just never felt like I was quite churchy enough. Fast forward to my now husband becoming a Pastor, those feelings amplified. People wanted to put me in a First Lady box with fancy dresses, hats, singing in the choir, planning women's banquets, working with kids...you know, the churchy First Lady duties. There were also people who didn't like me or think I was good enough to marry a pastor, who wasn't a pastor when we stared dating. For too long, I even downplayed my contributions to the Church (serving as an usher, trustee, teacher, etc.) because these things weren't necessarily popular, flashy and are thankless jobs. I mean seriously, as an usher in high school and after college, I wore the same outfit every week to church (On my journey to minimalism, I actually wish I could go back to those days!!!) Either way, I would like to point out now that none of these activities are actually reasons why we go to church. Our focus is off and this is why we continue to see a decline in attendance and why church people get a bad rap.
The intended purpose of church is actually to worship God. Periodt! Through our prayers, songs, preaching, giving and the ordinances (not rituals) of the church (i.e. communion, baptism, etc.). I don't believe that God cares as much about the customs and traditions that humans have instituted or how great the "show" is. God cares about the work of the church, inside and outside of the building. It's unfortunate that we've put emphasis on wrong things all these years and seems like, even after covid, and the church being "on punishment", that we haven't really learned the lesson. Folks are anxious to get back to service and conferences, etc. but what about the work outside the building? I fear that we will fall back into the same routines on Sunday morning if we do not intentionally recalibrate. We have to put God back in our worship service but also take Him with us throughout the week.
We are so comfortable going to church on Sundays, but folks literally don't do anything else the rest of the week. We barely pray, read on our own, help others, attend Bible study, etc. We sing in the choirs, run around the church, babysit kids but miss what the preacher is saying. Do we understand that church isn't a show? We are supposed to participate, worship, learn and take that information outside. Do we understand that it's not just the pastor's job to spread the gospel? We claim to be involved in church "ministries" but many of these groups aren't even doing the work of the Church, we are just planning special event to gather amongst ourselves and celebrate people, there is no actual ministering involved.
Would you believe that there are even some people who only show up to church when it's their turn to participate in "ministry" (singing the choir, ushering, cooking, counting money, reading the announcements, women/men's day, etc.)? Do we not need to attend church any other time?
Our focus is off…
We have worshipped the wrong things for too long:
We worship the pastor - but when He dies or makes us upset, we are lost or leave church all together
We worship our offices or ministries in the church - but are we concerned about discipleship and the actual impact
We worship seeing other church members - but what about people who do not know Christ at all
We worship our appearance - but what do fancy clothes even have to do with anything?
Jesus left us here to do good work. He did not leave us here to simply be good at having church services. When we go to work, when we are on social media, in our communities, etc. Too often, church people leave God in the sanctuary on Sundays, neglecting the good work that should be done during the week. Wherever we go, whoever we are around, we should be reflective of Christ and the work that He did. We should not be nasty to people, we should be not be elitist and exclusionary, we should not complain about our jobs… I mean seriously, there are people who sing the house down on Sunday but complain and appear depressed on social media on Monday, how does that work? Point is, as the old folks say "don't be so holy that you are no earthly good".
Now, I do in fact love a good worship experience, but I also understand the Great Commission to "Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations" - Matthew 28:19. What we should actually be concerned about is worshipping God in spirit and truth, teaching people about Christ, reflecting Christ in our daily lives, advocating for the less fortunate, mentoring young people, etc. This text in John reminds us of just that. A directive from Jesus himself. If we really do believe in Jesus Christ and the work He did while He walked earth and the work He did on the cross, we are challenged to reciprocate. (Note: discipleship extends beyond raising your own kid(s)). There is nothing greater qualitatively that we can do that trumps Jesus dying on the cross, but we can do greater quantitative work. Remember Jesus ministry was only 3 years, compared to us having a lifetime of worship and discipleship.
So what are you going to do with your time? Are you going to be a participant only on Sunday, are you only going to receive from church service on Sunday, or are you willing to actually do the work of the Church every single day. I no longer care about appearing churchy enough, I care about making an impact in the Kingdom of God.
It's time to let go of just being churchy. We must be the Church, doing God will and making more disciples!
Live outside the box. Live in purpose. Live on purpose.
Peace. Blessings. Love.
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