Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Church: Organism or Organization?
A building with stained glass.
Full of do-gooders. Hyprocrites.
Or...A place I go every Sunday (but not joyfully.)
Ask a lot of people to describe the church and you may hear some of the above words. I have never fallen asleep in church, but I can remember being bored in quite a few, especially as a teenager. In fact, I recently found one of my old Bibles, one I used to carry around with me in junior high, and inside the front and back covers were notes my friends and I had written back and forth to eachother in the middle of church. We wrote about friends a few pews away. Weekend plans. Check this box or that. MASH. I was obviously NOT paying attention to the sermon.
Maybe you remember this Sunday School song?
"I am the church. You are the church. We are the church together. All who follow Jesus, all around the world, yes, we're the church together. The church is not a building. The church is not a steeple. The church is not a resting place. The church is the people..."
And remember making that church steeple by intertwining your fingers and then bending back your hands to show your fingers, wiggling them when you sang the line "The church is the people..."? Sunday School was fun. Big people church - not so much.
So what about church today? Why don't people go to church? A lot of reasons for sure, some listed above.
This morning, I heard Alistair Begg from Truthforlife.org say "The Church is an ORGANISM, not an ORGANIZATION." Maybe this sums up the problem with churches today - we are more like organizations than we are organisms.
What's the difference?
Organisms are alive. They are living, breathing life forms where all the parts work together for a common purpose.
An organization is a business; it has structure, is outlined with a mission, has employees, partners, financial needs, events and programs.
Sure, the church can be a little bit of both and certainly churches need financial support so they can pay those in ministry and have a place of worship (An aside: Do we REALLY have to have a Mega-church? Some churches are so gaudy, it makes me wonder about their priorities. Do we really need a church gym? A $10,000 metal cross? A Bose sound system? Anyway...)
Bottom line, the church, is US. Christ lives in all of us as Christians. Every where we go, if we love Christ, we are his church. If people think church is boring, judgmental or hypocritical that means we, the people of Christ, have some work to do if we expect people to want to have anything to do with this life force, let alone show up on Sunday. Our love, kindness and compassion needs to spread out into the world so people can form a new paradigm of what "church" means. We are the church in our homes, at our places of work, in the community, wherever we are. Coming together on Sundays as a group in our various places of worship is a blessing, but we shouldn't keep the blessing to ourselves or let the "organization" stifle the organism. Are we more worried about "getting people to come to church" than we are about "getting people to come to Christ?" Let's be a LIVING church - and take the inspiration, hope and love we receive from eachother in Christ out into our communities. Let our love bring the world "back to life." May our actions show others to the life force of the church, to what keeps us, the organism alive - Jesus. Whether they join the organization is secondary.