I don’t know where I found this, but I read one believer describe our modern church life by saying, “Church membership has become a sort of religious credit card that costs nothing in life, and will be worth nothing in death.” He went on to say, “This much is certain. If we do not soon make church membership mean something, it will mean nothing.” What has gone wrong with our thinking about church?
Back in high school, I remember one church that began “Drive-In Services.” You could remain in your car, tune your radio to a certain frequency and listen to the service. You have got to be kidding me? You had the energy to drive to the church, but you couldn’t go it and mingle with the people? There is something seriously wrong with that.
Today you can watch church services on TV or online—but not interact with any people. Granted, if a believer is bed-ridden, or for whatever reason cannot leave their house, I understand and think those types of ministries are extremely valuable. When I broke my ankle, I loved watching the services online. However, I was grateful to have people call me or stop over to the house to see me. One brother told me that was role of a Pastor, and I greatly disagreed with him. That is not the role of a Pastor—but it your role as a believer to meet with people in need—minor needs, as well as major needs.
I realize it is impossible to get close to everybody in our church or try to meet everybody’s needs (unless it is small). But we should be close enough to some, that when payday is three days away and they have run short of cash, we know it and take care of it; if someone suffers a loss of a family member, we can offer them comfort or encouragement. It doesn’t have to be profound. I remember when I first moved to Ann Arbor. I was a new member of our church, so I didn’t know many people. But one brother I was growing close to, lost his mother. After the funeral, everyone met at their home for a small reception. I didn’t know what to do or say, so when the guests began to arrive, I took care of their coats for my friend. Such a simple act, but one that meant so much to my friend that he commented on it a couple of years later.
Our problem is that we have adopted a non-biblical view of the church. We did not take the Reformation far enough. What was lost in the Dark Ages was more than doctrinal purity. We also lost the simple structure of the church and the life supplied by the participation of its members. The church became more of an institutional hierarchy, where we only considered those engaged in full-time ministry as ministers. The church will only be alive when we recover the truth that every member has a ministry. A church comes alive when we discover our ministry in the church—when we are willing to do the “work” of the ministry.
We need to see is that the Church is all about relationship. The Church is not bricks and mortar it is people. The Greek term for Church means the “called out ones.” We have to understand that the Church is not a physical facility. The Church is you, each one of you. Without you, the Church would not exist. That is precisely why the Church is about relationships. In the Church, we are related to one another in a vital union of the Spirit.
If interested, you can download the entire study of The Letter to Christians at Rome