Sunday, January 27, 2008

"I don't need to go to church to be spiritual"

I usually hear this explanation when asked to perform a wedding for someone who doesn't attend church. If you can worship God outside of church, how exactly do you do it?
  • How much time do you spend weekly in prayer?
  • How often do you read the Bible?
  • What kind of religious education program are you pursuing?
  • What religious training are you providing your children?
  • What religious fellowship activities are you involved in?
  • How often do you sing God's praises?
  • What are you giving to God in terms of your time, talent, & treasure?
  • How often do you share your faith with others?
  • What kinds of social ministries are you assisting?
  • How many hurting people do you comfort and encourage?
  • How do you remember Christ's sacrificial death without Holy Communion?
  • What do you do with the holy seasons of the year (Lent, Advent, etc)?
  • Who do you call on when hospitalized or in need of counsel?
  • How conscious of God are you in times of solitude?
  • Do you really focus on God when your enjoying some natural setting, or do you merely relax, enjoying the scenery?
  • Is recreation an act of worship, or is it focused on your own comfort?

"Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

What does it take to build a church?

There are 5 essential building blocks...

Church is a place where God is taken seriously. What we do on Sunday is directed God-ward; we benefit from being here, but God is the audience we’re hoping most to please. In worship we interrupt our preoccupation with ourselves. There’s something much bigger than our needs going on. Worship is also our attempt to express the inexpressible. It is how we express to God our wonder and thanks. Worship enables us to experience reverence in the presence of God.

The church isn’t a classroom, but it is a place where we can grow in our understanding and application of God’s word. The only exams occur when we depart. If we’re not learning, we’re not growing spiritually. In church we engage our hearts and minds. We need a working-knowledge of the Bible, and church is a key place where that can occur.

Church is a family…we’re in this together! We don’t grow in isolation, but as we connect with others. The “seven sacraments” of Congregationalism are baptism, communion, and five cups of coffee! Fellowship is the relationship that defines how we will connect to one another in Heaven. It is the ministry of selflessly caring for one another. A large church took a survey and one of the questions was, “If your minister left, would you leave?” 93% said “no” and the reason was, “Because I have friends here.” Our message to the community needs to be simply and clearly: “If you come here, we’re going to love you.”

We’re saved to serve; passive attendance isn’t good for anyone. We grow by finding ways of serving the Lord and using our talents for Him. A young woman admitted that, “It was easier to stay anonymous and aloof than to do the hard, intimate work of actually becoming part of a church” (Lauren Winner). God wants our active involvement, for our own good. “A non-ministering Christian is a contradiction in terms” (Rick Warren).

Churches that don’t reach out die out! We exist for others. We may not all be evangelists, but we can all share our faith. If we can talk to people about sports and politics, restaurants and movies, we can talk about our Savior. And we don’t have to be perfect to do this. “The church is not made up of spiritual giants; only broken people can lead others to the Cross” (David Bosch). The greatest thing we can do for someone is to introduce them to our Savior. If we really believe the Gospel is Good News, we wouldn’t want to keep it from others. We should strive to be: a voice through which Christ speaks, a hand through which Christ helps, and a heart through which Christ loves.

Are we mobilized to fulfill the Great Commission? Our purpose is to make disciples. There are many un-churched people wandering aimlessly in life, spiritually lost, without direction, without God and without hope. The church is the great Lost and Found department.