Honest Understanding of Church
Since January my family and I have had an upheaval of sorts regarding our positions and belonging to a church body. Over the last few weeks we have seemed to have settled some of the issues we’ve had in the transition.
Some of the questions in our minds: Where do we fit? Why haven’t we fit? Does it really matter that much that we feel like we belong? Why is there so much superficial relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ? What is the role our children play in the choice we make? Does our participation matter more for our children or for us? Do we need to be tied down to a specific building? Where do “programs” fit into the flexibility we need to have as the body of Christ? What are the advantages/disadvantages to a large congregation? Or a smaller congregation? How much are our children going to resent us for making them go here as opposed to there?
As a Christian father, the responsibility of spiritual leadership is a heavy burden. I do not take these questions lightly. Sure I over-think many things in my life but you cannot over-think what it means for the spiritual growth of our family. We were given these children as a gift, to raise them up in the knowledge and awareness of God and His salvation for His people and His purposes. I will have to stand before The Creator, Sustainer, and Savior of the universe someday and answer for what I did, for what I was given. That is not anything any one of us should take lightly. It is a privilege and it is a burden.
We have decided to go to the smaller church as opposed to the larger one that has many people and more programs and more friends our children can connect to. We are not going to severe the connection between us and the larger church, but just not participate every week nor lock ourselves into one program or another.
Today, it seems, God confirmed our choice, because the pastor spoke of that “we’re through playing games”, we are not the church that are just the hearers of the word, but we are called to be doers. He elaborated on the Prophet, Priest and King we are all called in the Bible and elaborated the characteristics these are to have. We divided up into groups and were given “assignments” as to what we are to be doing, as either Prophet, Priest or King. I say “assignments” with quotes because these are things we are all to be doing anyway, this congregation is just acting upon them. He told us that if we want to be a part of a group that are just hearers that this is not the place for you. I really appreciated that. I especially appreciated the fact that this wasn’t something we were given the opportunity to sign-up for at the back of the building, where you’d go back in a church of 700 and see two names on the list, but gave everyone the option to see where they fit. And if they didn’t know they were to have some counsel as to where they may belong. We are going to be doing this for forty days and every few months. The idea being that since we are all called into these roles, we should all know what each is like. Also, we start out with “Jerusalem” then “Judea” and to the ends of the earth. We are first to focus on each other, then go further and further out. Thank God for this burden that God has laid on these men’s hearts. I am encouraged to be a part of a doing church. May I carry the task and give God the glory.
In saying all this, we have chosen the harder road. Not for ourselves, but for the whole idea of what we have always believed the Church to be, especially for our children. If you have never examined the purpose of what God intended for His Church you need to. There are several books that have guided me on this journey and I’d like to recommend them to you. First book I read when coming to these new ideas is “The Naked Church” by Wayne Jacobson. I was flying back to Salt Lake City last year for my Nana’s funeral, and I had asked a dear friend for something to read on the plane. This friend, whom I had recently met, had very many interesting things to say that I had never heard of before. I learned from this book why I had always felt the way I had when sitting in services. We go to church and stare at the back of someone’s head the whole time, sing songs someone else has chosen and listen to a person elevated, not only physically but mentally in our minds, far above us. Is this what the Church was intended to be? The short answer is no. Read the book or perhaps one of these others I read: “Pagan Christianity” by Frank Viola and George Barna or “Revolution” by George Barna. These are all great books that help you understand why you have felt the way you have in church. Another great on is “Living Waters” by Brother Yun. This book is a great exposé of the church in the west as opposed to what may be going on in the churches in China and other areas of the world.
I pray that God would open your eyes to what He would have for you and that you would walk in it. And I don’t mean that we sit around saying that God hasn’t revealed to me what I should be doing, but that we would get up, get off your seat, move your feet and do what He says. “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:17. “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God” Micah 6:8. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19