Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It's a big building with patients, but that's not important right now.

I'm currently teaching through a Sunday school series called "Church Matters," the brain child of Lance, where we've combined the adult & youth classes at Providence Church.

The first week we looked at what the church is not, interacting with 4 articles from Mike Sviegel:

Part 1 - The Church is not a merely human organization (e.g., not political party, not a club, and not a business).

Part 2 - The church is not a supermarket of spiritual groceries (problems include church shopping, hopping, and dropping).

Part 3 - The church is not just a gathering of a few believers (especially those for whom they deem no church is worthy).

Part 4 - The church is not an option (it is a necessary component of sanctification).

I highly recommend those, and I'd like to add a few more along the lines of what the church is not ...

1. The church is not a meat market for singles to meet in order to cure them of the disease of singleness, nor should a church promote (or condone) itself as such. Certainly, Christians should marry Christians (2 Cor 6:14) and a great place to meet like-minded believers is in one's church, but the function of the church is not pairing people up.

2. The church is not a place of mere intellectual performance, a platform for people to show off their mental prowess or big words. Certainly, we are to love the Lord our God with all our minds and intellectual stimulation should occur if we are so loving God. However, church does not convene for a pastor or teacher to show off or to demean others of less intelligence/knowledge.

3. The church is not a building. Sure, the vernacular allows the building to be shorthand, just as we realize the Burger King is a entity that serves people food there. The church meets there and owns/uses that facility. However, it's far too popular to think of the building as the legacy, with people being loyal to a building and not Christ or His flock that meets there. I've even heard people personify a church building by speaking of it saving people and it making a difference in the lives of other or a community.

4. The church is not a gig. The church is not a venue for the band to entertain or try out new material. It's not a place for an audience to come to get entertained by artists. It is, however, a place for musicians to use their talents to the glory of God as worshipers are aided in exalting our Triune God together.

5. The church is not a place to network, to be seen or make business contacts. I've only experienced this secondhand, but looking for a church based on networking possibilities is particularly heinous.

6. The church is merely not a place to come and unload about your aches and pains. Sure, it's as much a hospital as much as it is an army, but Christian love dictates that we care about others, not just about getting our concerns on the magical prayer list. It's good to share your needs, but don't forget about the needs of others.

7. The church is not a group of perfect people. In fact, recognition of one's sinfulness is required for joining. We are people being perfected, but that means we're called to be patient, kind, forgiving, and loving with each other in the growing process. That means we give patience, not just expect it for us.
“For as long as Jesus insists on calling sinners and not the righteous to repentence-and there is no indication as yet that he has changed his policy in that regard-churches are going to be an embarrassment to the fastidious and and affront to the upright.”
-Peterson, Reversed Thunder, 54

Any others?
Recommended Reading: Stop Dating the Church: Fall in Love with the Family of God, by Joshua Harris.


At 16 April, 2008 13:30, Blogger etoc said...

How about...

8. The church is not a place for self-improvement. Moral therapeutic deism has replaced worship and God's sanctifying work through the Holy Spirit all too often.

9. The church is not a sub-culture to hide in for safe Christian alternatives. It's supposed to be a transformative subversive counter-culture in the midst of the mainstream.

10. The church is not the means for having a good family or a venue for being patriotic. May happen there, but push-comes-to-shove, this is about something more priority than your family or nation. This transcends both in a fundamental way that claims all your allegiance and re-establishes all your relations.

Thanks for the good post! Not you've got a top ten.

At 16 April, 2008 13:33, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this quote by Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the church community -

“He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions my be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together, p. 27.

At 16 April, 2008 13:36, Blogger GUNNY said...

Yeah, baby! Those are great. I knew there had to be some slooge I was missing.

10 - So many people see the church as a means to an end, with the end being the family. Instead of wondering how their family can serve the church, it's what's this church gonna do for us. Nicely stated.

9. Great point. Too many are heavily influenced by the culture's negative aspects, but the goal is not merely to avoid being influenced, it's to influence.

"transformative subversive counter-culture" - I like that. I like that a lot.

8. Amen. Church leaders are not merely Dr. Phil's with a few Bible tools in the bag.

Danke for sharing the great love.

At 16 April, 2008 20:33, Blogger Jesus Girl said...


At 16 April, 2008 21:02, Blogger GUNNY said...

Oh, stewardess, I speak Jive.

At 17 April, 2008 06:45, Blogger Jesus Girl said...

you just hang loose, blood, she gonna catch up on the rebound on your medici.

At 17 April, 2008 09:36, Blogger Timothy said...

Gunny, I think the best thing about the church and community is the fact that if we remain faithful, it will become one of the best communities. It like being authentic, you can't try to be authentic anymore than you can try to be community. It's an action of the Holy Spirit. He brings it about. Waiting for Him to move is far better than trying to manufacture it.

At 17 April, 2008 10:53, Anonymous Ron said...

I think we should be careful with some of these "the church is not" ideas. Sure, we may want to think the church isn't some of these things, but the truth is that it really is. For example, it's often said that the church isn't a building. However, the single largest chunk of almost any church's resources (both in money and time) is spent on maintaining the facility. What's more, try getting rid of the facility and see how many folks keep coming. The building really is a significant part of what a modern church is. Kind of like your lungs... No, you are not your lungs. But you also aren't anything without them.

Likewise the "church isn't a corporation" slogan. Well, actually it is. Most churches exist as corporations registered with the state. If they didn't, they couldn't conduct business, which means they couldn't pay for staff or facilities, which means they'd rapidly cease to exist. Huge amounts of energy are expended by members of a church to conduct that business, and most serious disputes within the church arise because of how that business is conducted. The vast majority of church splits occur as a result of conflicts over control of the corporation and its resources. The modern church very much is a corporation, and it either needs to learn to act like one or seriously re-evaluate its nature.

Here's one: "The church is not some platonic, spiritual ideal that can live and operate without a real, physical, flesh-and-blood, messy incarnation. Nor is the church well-served by pretending this is not the case."

At 17 April, 2008 13:36, Blogger samurai said...

I couldn't come up with an original idea. Every time I thought of something, it was brought up a little bit later.

There are also some more good ones here in the comments.


At 18 April, 2008 13:24, Blogger Rev. said...

The church is not a place where you play tag.

Nonetheless, you're it!


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