Not another church blog

Resistance is futile. If you troll social media sites for only 5 minutes a day you will see them. These pithy articles written by well-educated and well-meaning men and women who genuinely are concerned about the church and therefore blog about the church with endless lists of reasons why this generation or that generation is no longer going to church and what the church can do to fix the church. Don't get me wrong - I, too, have a burden for God's church and I see a lot that I find distasteful and counterproductive - but I don't know if I can handle reading another blog post about it. So I guess it's time to write one of my own.

Before I begin, let me preface my remarks this way - I am no expert on the church. My experience in local churches has spanned decades now but in no way am I a guru on all things church. I have not read most of the books written on the church that are out there and I miss out on most of the church growth conference and seminars that come to town. Yet I love the church, the bride of Christ, and I have been called to serve within God's church. And like you, I want to see the church flourish.

Without going into a history lesson on what the church is, I want to begin with a passage of Scripture in the New Testament that I believe serves as the catalyst for beginning the conversation on the church. Acts 2:41-47 describes in great details the actions and attitudes of a group of Christ followers who regularly assembled themselves together in the wake of Jesus' ascension back into heaven. Look at how their gathering was described:
  • They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayers (vs.42)
  • All the believers were together and had everything in common (vs.44)
  • They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need (vs.45)
  • Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex, and broke bread from house to house. They at their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all people. (vs.46-47a)
  • And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved. (vs.47b)
That's quite a list! These words are more than a template by which we follow to design our churches - they describe the church itself. There is no outline for style preferences or buildings. Here you find no lists of why Millenials no longer are attending church or how to increase attendance/relevancy/space in an ever-changing culture or the newest evangelism program that meets on Sunday afternoons. What you do find is people who love Jesus living out their love for Him in ways that are so intentional that God is messing up everyone who comes into contact with them.

This church is serious about the word of God and prayer. Fellowship with each other is a priority. They not only sought to meet the physical needs of those within their church but they also were compelled to sacrifice their own belonging so that others could flourish (this is much more than passing a plate or taking up a love offering). They possesses a genuine joy that only comes from God and were content with where they were and with what God had given to them. They were changed by the gospel of Jesus and are now living out that gospel in their everyday lives. As a result, God blessed them and greatly multiplied their numbers.

Honestly, I cannot add anything to that list. Yes, cultural contexts are different from nation to nation, but the truth of these words are timeless. I also cannot give definitive answers as to why certain groups are no longer attending church or why one style of worship is more effective for reaching our world than another. But I do know what I see in Scripture - the church being the church. Absent are all these church strategies that seem to dominate so much of our focus these days.

So what would happen if we simply focused on loving God and loving people (Matthew 22:37-38)? I think we all see what God can and will do when we make our love for Him our single greatest focus and delight and satisfaction - And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved. This is not church growth; this is God's people living out their faith and God naturally expanding His kingdom as a result.

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