Re-DESCRIBING Church

21 05 2010

I’ve heard it time and time again, mostly from college students in the dorms after a passionate discussion with a professor.  “When I graduate I want to re-define the church!”  After which they talk about all the ways they are going to do church differently which in all reality is the same way it’s just a different presentation.  They are still meeting on Sundays, they still have a small group style meeting and teaching, whether it is in a home on thursday night or a class room on sunday morning, it’s still the same concept.

I will be honest and say “we” because I’ve been guilty of saying it too, but the definition of the church as given by Christ is just fine.  What we’re really trying to say with out successfully saying it is that we want to replace people’s current definition of “church” with the one we believe it should be.  Here in lies the problem, in our world today words have a bazillion meanings.  Yes I know words only have 5 to 6 true definitions as given by Webster or Dicitionary.com, ok maybe 14, but the point remains that words have different meanings to different people.  So to try to re-define a word, that billions of people throughout history have used and that has been around longer than anybody reading this post, I believe is not practical!  But I do believe we can re-describe it.

If you go to Dictionary.com and browse the word “church” you will find 14 different definitions but only one descriptive word above all of those: NOUN. 

What if we re-described the church as a VERB?  Although people’s definitions might not be changed, the way they see the church and their opinion of the church’s value might.  I’m not talking about being “seeker sensitive”  because honestly no matter how we design our Saturday and/or Sunday services we are not being a VERB.  We may use verbs to describe what we do in services, but that does not count as us being active in our community (no this still doesn’t count if your church is in the middle of 1,300 homes!).    Our church services are not a service to the community, regardless of how real-life it is or how sweet they may be. 

Here are some  thoughts: if your church’s only community service is on Halloween or Easter you serve the town dentist more than your community.  If your service to the community takes place at your church more than it does in your community I’d use the word of LAZY to describe your service.  If you have to preach at every service function because you can’t trust your members to personally share the Gospel, your service is the least of your issues…

Until we re-describe church for our communities they will keep their definitions, and as long as they keep their definitions we will continue to lose the opportunity to help them experience healed lives.  Your sermon is important, but service is critical.

What do you think?

What are some awesome ways you’ve seen churches serve their community?

What is your definition of a church?

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2 responses

21 05 2010
Tad

Mason,

Can’t argue for sure. It is my opinion that the organic movement, the emergent movement, and others with similar ideas have all been born from what you are describing in your blog. The church is often not acting like the Church. So, some people get fed up with the church because they want to be the Church but the church doesn’t necessarily equip the saints to go out into the world and preach the gospel. Got that? Are you trackin what I’m sayin? The church expects the broken sinner to come into the church, fall on his knees in brokeness, and accept Christ as his savior. Yet, the biblical model was exactly opposite — wasn’t it? I am correct in thinking that the early church equipped the saints to go out. Christ admonished the disciples to go out. We are so pious, arrogant, etc. in our modern culture and thinking that we believe we have done our job if we tithe our 10% and “let someone else go out and preach the word”. No joke man, heard this comment. The question remains, however, what do we do about it? All the bantering in the world, all the debates in the world ain’t gonna get it done. We must move to action. Individually if needed, but collectively as one body is more appropriate.

22 05 2010
Mason Stanley

Tad, this comment adds tremendously to the post! I agree whole-heartily that all the debates and the bantering aren’t going to get it done. The instance that spurred this post is a news clip I saw of Cross Point Church in Nashville. Because of the flood in their community they banded together and have done over 3 million dollars worth of work and repair for free! They are taking up an offering for relief, but they didn’t stop there! Thats the kind of church I want to be a part of, the kind of chuch that isn’t content being the church on Sunday morning.

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