A friend from college has recently asked “Are you serving the church or using the church?” A second friend replied with another good question: “Is the church serving you or using you?” Two questions rolling out of very different beds of experience and concern… But both these questions made me wonder (I like to wonder):
Should I be here to serve the church, or should the church be here to serve me?
I have to admit, I get really frustrated with the whole “this church isn’t meeting my needs so I’m going to take my tithe check somewhere where they’ll listen” mentality. I’ve seen this line of thinking often (not always) hide an unrepentant spirit bent on religious posturing more than transformational living. (i.e. “I want enough church to make me feel good, but not so much Jesus that he wrecks my comfortable life.”) On the other hand, it’s disgusting to see a church leadership so bent on its own agenda that it treats people as cogs in their machine with no regard to the spiritual development of those individuals.
The problem is that we’ve developed an ecclesiology (way of thinking about the church) that separates “the church” from the people who make up that particular church. But that’s like separating the bees from the swarm – you can’t. Without the bees, there is no swarm. The bees, together ARE the swarm. (When was the last time you heard two bees talking about “going to swarm”?)
Bees and -ologies aside, the church is the people of God living on the mission of God. God is at work in history to reconcile the world to Himself. The church is that mass of humanity who have chosen to champion the advancement of that agenda. The church is here to serve Him. I am here to BE the church, not GO to church. Which makes me continue to wonder…
How do we learn to “be the church” without falling into the trap of merely “going to church”?
If the contemporary visitor/member/leader status-structure keeps ‘the church’ mentally separate from the people in it, what is a better way?
What other questions does this bring to your mind?