church as the means…and not end

response to a article: Americans switching faiths/dropping out 

one of the things i have been thinking about lately is how we treat Church as the ends…rather than the means.  when we let our faith, our relationship with God, and even our emotions rise and fall based on “the event” on sunday…we have already taught people that our basis for judging whether or not i should “go to church” or “go to a specific church” or “if i even want to be associated with a church” also rises and falls based on a sunday service.  when our time, energy, and effort focuses on “the event”…church becomes the end….and not the means. 

so what do i mean by the church being “the means?”  the church, the body of Jesus Christ in the world today, should not be defined, evaluated, or judged by what we do or do not do on sunday…but by how well we, as the church, become Jesus to the world everyday through self-sacrificial love, service, justice, mercy, etc.  if the church becomes understood by the masses as “the means” through which the Holy Spirit works to continue on the redemptive work of God in our world…and we begin to understand that we have a HUGE ROLE in what God is doing to further His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven….then we have something more rich, more vibrant, and more purposeful that people will want to be a part of.  if “church” gets watered down to a show or performance on sunday…rather than understanding our role in God’s grand narrative of restoration…then people will turn from the church…and kids won’t stick around in a purposeless, empty, and inward focused environment.

the message that the article sends to me…as a parent…and as one leader of a church…is that the church, and we as Christ-followers, are an integral part in how God is working to restore and reconcile all things.  i want my kids to bring justice and mercy in our community and world through their self-sacrificial love and service.  i don’t want them to just “learn” about it by people telling them at a service on Sunday what it looks like…but to have them doing it with their hands and hearts, as well.  i want to model the life of Jesus to my kids in how i visit with the prisoner, homeless, and orphan.  i want my kids to know that God is a provider…but provides so that we can help our brother out rather than horde and consume for ourselves.  i want them to have a chance to be hands on in their generosity and help a child in Africa.  i want to model a rich and vibrant prayer life that is active, thankful, and expectant.  i want my kids to know and understand that learning and memorizing verses is only half of the deal…that it must be made flesh in our lives.  i want my kids to see the beauty of creation and that we are all stewards and caretakers of this beautiful world that God created.  what would be the point of my kids going to “church” on sunday for a lesson without jenny and i realizing that the church is the means through which we and our kids can be used by God to change the world?

the Christian life is so rich and deep and beautiful…and it is about us recognizing it as such.  it is so much more than rules, regulations, laws, and judgment…and more about living in the grace of the Creator and being a part of His amazing story of reclaiming, redeeming, and restoring through Jesus.  when we capture the beauty of what God intends the church to be…then and only then…will people want to be a part of something that they would give their life up for…and more people will be drawn into that adventure.  that is what i would give my life up for.