April 10, 2005

Sunday

I didn't go to church this weekend.

It's funny, because in your mind, the word "church" conjures up an image, and I am wondering what that image is. Is it a little white building with a steeple with cute little old ladies (whose hair matches the siding) working their way from car to building? Is it a giant auditorium filled with lots of different people, a stage, and a band singing at the top of their lungs? Is it a giant stone building with stained-glass windows, priests in elaborate robes bearing a cross regally to an altar at the front, organ music soaring over the heads of the masses?

I didn't go to church this weekend.

Church, as I've been learning, isn't any of those things. The pastor at Crosswinds has given sermons where he talked about church - and he said that church isn't really a building. The Church is a group of people. There are little churches - small groups of people - there are big churches - like Crosswinds or Willow Creek where there are lots of people - and there is The Church, which is the church of the world - every believer on the face of the Earth.

I didn't go to church this weekend.

Into what have we turned our sunday gatherings? Some churches have it right - there's a church in Pittsford that a few of my college friends go to where I couldn't have felt more welcome; people were interested in me, they wanted to know what made me tick, and they wanted to make me feel at home - and they were grateful that I came to spend a sunday with them, like I was somebody important.

I didn't go to church this weekend.

Other churches have lost their focus. Sunday, for them, is a time when some people - the paid staff - put together an event so they can try and invite their non-believer friends to be saved. Sunday, for them, is a special event, a time when people get the truth told to them. I've been to churches like that - where nobody really knows anyone else, even though there are hundreds, sometimes thousands of other people milling around, where the families are so busy getting kids from one place to another that they don't have time to say hi to their neighbor.

I didn't go to church this weekend.

Church - what our sunday gatherings are for - is for community. It's for getting together with a family of believers - a church - and worshipping God together. A gathering lets people become part of the group, and the group takes on an identity of its own - and worships God as one.

I'm going to church tonight. May God bless the offering we give.

2 comments:

JDG said...

My father, a great man of God, always said that the church service is not an evangelistic tool. Too many cowardly Christians use Sunday service as an excuse not to share their faith, but shove the plate to the pastor who is lecturing a group rather than taking firm hold of that precious one-on-one that should be what evangelism is all about.

Laura said...

Group gatherings of any number of believers,in any form, any day of the week, is the church.
We, brothers and sisters in Christ, doing life together, are the church.