10 August 2008

GO? To Church

When talking about church, words like "attendance," "worship" and "go" have been misused. They give the wrong impression. Church should never be thought of only as a place to "go" and “attendance” should never be the primary description of your relationship to a church.

We attend theatres and we do so to be entertained. It is a place to shut off briefly and let someone else do the thinking. But church is not a place of entertainment and attending is never an appropriate way to worship God. The occasional break should never be identified with church.

People who only “go” to church or “attend” church are missing the point and churches that encourage this are sending the wrong message. The disciples never attended anything. On the contrary they were constantly moving. They probably walked hundreds of kilometers during their time with Jesus.

On the very odd occasion when the disciples could sit and listen to Jesus they rarely got His meaning without further diligent work. Church "attendance" for them was more like school with loads of homework requiring careful study and the work was done on the run. They went home infrequently.

Actually, Jesus focused more on curious unbelievers than the disciples. He often taught in common places where anyone could hear. Even non-disciples didn’t have to go anywhere to attend the meetings of Jesus. He was always making His way to the public.

For the disciples, of course, this meant hard work. Every time Jesus opened His mouth, went anywhere or did anything the disciples were under great pressure. They were always called upon to serve rather than be served. Their infrequent group devotions probably included a hymn but they were likely too tired to clap. They learned more by doing, than sitting and listening. Their acts of worship were usually expressed while moving from one place to another. Church for Jesus and the disciples was nothing like the traditional church today. There was nothing conventional here.

On one occasion, Jesus entertained a crowd in Peter’s home. The house was so full there was no room left for anyone to get in by the normal method (the door). In response, one determined group got in by breaking through the roof. The Bible doesn’t record the reaction of the disciples but I am sure Peter’s wife made a few comments about the mess once the crowd was gone.

“Attendance” is not a word we could accurately use to describe any worship experience by the disciples. They were rarely in one spot, they were constantly surrounded by crowds (they had little privacy) and their leader, Jesus, seemed to put them under pressure. They couldn't even take a holiday without being hounded by needy people.

That doesn’t describe what happens today. The clothes we wear to church are more appropriate for a fashion show than ministry and the places we “attend” church are inaccessible and uninviting to curious unbelievers.

If your “worship” experience hasn’t been too fulfilling recently maybe it involves too much “attendance” and not enough serving. If you need a break, by all means, take a holiday. If you want to make a difference, engage church and make it engaging, don’t attend it. ThinkAboutIt


Talmid said...

I agree, we should not even count numbers!!! its always how big is your "church" or how many come on sunday, numbers, numbers, numbers, we want to take attendance so we can pat ourselves on the back. Jesus said I will add to the church, that means the body of Christ and that is world wide. We should not be concerned with taking attendance, but growing disciples.

EnnisP said...

Good thought Talmid. If church was working properly "attendance keeping" wouldn't be the best way to measure it. The first church grew to thousands on the day of Pentecost and even more in the days immeidately following. But, they dropped to almost nothing under persecution. That first church was working well before and after persecution but you couldn't measure it by attendance.

Hakeber said...

So True! So many churches spend the majority of their time teaching the same Bible studies to the same Christians, "disciples", who never go out and do anything for the unbelievers.

Rick Frueh said...

There are many different problems with theestern evangelical churches. They have adopted a secular structure of administration including one of the greatest hinderances - obscene amounts of debt.

This debt is not for missions, it is for bigger and better buildings to provide the most comfortable setting for the spoiled Americans who need to be constantly entertained and preoccupied through a sensory atmosphere that massages the flesh.

Only God can "measure" a church but we continue to follow David's poor example istead of walking by faith.

EnnisP said...

Hey Rick,
Its good to hear from you and again, you are right, which is true most of the time (I don't know how to do smiley's yet - just imagine one here).

One thing is for sure, we don't do things like Jesus did, in practise or principle.

Go well.

PS - I put a comment on one of your posts a good few weeks ago. I checked back for a few days and it never showed. Did it not get through? Just checking. There are glitches in the system.

Rick Frueh said...

Your comment did not get through.

Here is your smile menu.