Doing Church

(This wasn't the church I drove by, but another similar
billboard--it sounds like it has gotten quite a few
people into the church)
Earlier this summer we drove by a church whose sign said, "Church for people who don't do church." I frankly don't even know what that means. If people don't "do" church, how can there be a church for them? I somewhat get the sentiment behind it all--that the church has frustrated and alienated a lot of people--but I wonder how that can really be a church.

The problem today is that "church" has come to mean a building and the programs it runs. And we think that the more programs it runs and the bigger the building (with more people in it), the better the church.

I recently came across this quote on a church's website: "Christ did not come so that we could have church and that more often. He came so we could have life and that more abundantly." (St. James Church, Picadilly London)

I appreciate the sentiment of St. James Church. In many ways it is true. Christ did come so we could have life abundant (John 10:10). And while He didn't intend that we would have church more often, in many ways He did come so that we could have church. That is, if our definition of church is different than what you'll find on dictionary.com (definition #3 is closest).

First we have to take a step back and address the fact that Jesus didn't come to make Christians. The word wasn't even in His vocabulary (it wasn't coined until years after He was resurrected). Jesus simply invited people to follow Him and become His disciples (a disciple is simply a follower of a rabbi--teacher--who learns to be like that rabbi). And then Jesus said, "Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them" (Matthew 18:20, NIV). That's what church is: followers of Jesus getting together (well, mostly--"church" encompasses all followers throughout history). Which is happening every minute of every day throughout history.

Church is not about the programs we run, but the Savior we follow (the One who told us the greatest commandments are to love God and to love our neighbor just as we love ourselves). Church is not about the building we gather in, but about the whole world that is loved by God.

So people don't "do" church anyway. People are the church. But most likely, the people who don't "do" church haven't seen that many people who are following Jesus. Not people who put on a label that says they are a Christian, but people who live like Jesus lived: loving the outcast, undesirable and enemies; helping the orphan and the widow; acknowledging God in all parts of life; dwelling in God's Word; spending time in close, intimate spiritual community; spreading the Good News about the Kingdom of God; praying in quiet places and bringing peace to the places of unrest. That is how we "do" church.

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