I've been a follower of Jesus Christ now for 38 of my 44 years on earth. I came to Jesus when I was a small lad at the Greenfield Church of Christ, out near the County Lake, in rural Madison County, Alabama.
I remember the time, and I can take you to place--to quote one of the great songs of the "singing South."
I've worshipped among the "largest congregation" in the world--the Yoido Central Full Gospel Church in Seoul, South Korea.
I've also had the magnanimous privilege of worshipping in homes, and in small congregations of varying sizes, and denominational flavors over the last many years.
But I've often wondered, "What does it mean to be the Church?"
Dr Erwin W Lutzer, Senior Pastor of The Moody Church (www.moodychurch.org) here in Chicago always ends our morning worship gatherings by encouraging the congregants to "go be the Church" this week.
Great advice...however, what does it mean to "be the church"? How can I, little ole Phil Hoover in this large city of Chicago "be the church" to someone? How and where does that happen?
With all the trials and heartaches associated with just daily living, I'm beginning to "re-think" what it means to "be the church"--in practical terms. And the verdict is in: I've got a lot to learn.
What did the New Testament Church possess that the "contemporary" church is missing? Could it be:
Vibrant, unpretentious worship?
Committed and contagious community?
Exciting and exhilirating evangelism?
Simple and sold-out servanthood?
From what I'm reading in the New Testament, it was all of these things.
But sadly, it seems like many in contemporary society will "evaluate" (since we Christians are "far too spiritual" to ever judge ) a group of people by how good the "show" is on Sunday morning.
Not whether God is pleased and present among those gathered to offer spiritual worship to His Son, Jesus Christ.
We will evaluate a congregation/group of leaders by all the "externals" that we can see, not by the "hidden" things that take some probing, praying, and thinking.
Quite honestly, I'm tired of the "show." I was part of a congregation for three years where the "show" was the main activity of the "church." Few people really wanted to "be the church" outside of the parameters of the twice-weekly show.
Of course, any time I made mention of what the New Testament Church could possibly look like, I was always reminded that I wasn't in charge. Often I was accused of being rude, rebellious, and disrespectful.
But as long as the "show" continued, then everything had to "blest by God." After all, God couldn't possibly speak through someone who had committed their life to the congregation, and wanted to see "real community" take root.
But the "show" had to go continue, regardless.
So what does it mean to "be the church"?
I'm not sure, right now.
What about you? What say ye?