What is church, what does it do and why does it matter? | The Savings Wife

Monday, August 19, 2013

What is church, what does it do and why does it matter?

The Bible does not define the church as a building that we convene in once a week. The Bible has set up an active definition of church being a fellowship and community of believers. Furthermore, it is not just those at your services, but it is all those believers around the world. So your local church is a church, but we are also part of a world wide church that we must actively be engaging in.

What is the Church? 

Ephesians 1:22-23 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

A metaphor that is often used to describe Christ's people is "the body."

This term is synonymous with the term "church," as is evident from comparing Ephesians 4:4 and 1:22-23.
Ephesians 4:4  There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called;
Ephesians 1:22-23  And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Putting these verse together, we can conclude that there is one church.

Furthermore, the church is not defined by services alone, but by active participation in aiding and serving others. So I think the big thing that we need to really pay attention to is that we do not go to church on Sunday.  Church isn't a building, church is a people.
Ephesians 2:19-22 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
We are not only a people, we are active people. We need to be “doing church,” a weird term, but one that I think adequately describes our mission. A group of people who call themselves Christians that come and congregate makes not a church. The Lord has given us tasks to perform together as a whole, because we are these fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.

The church is the household of God, growing into a dwelling place for the Lord.

We should always be doing church. When I brought up this concept to the guys in the High School Sunday school class I've been teaching this summer, one of them said that they always thought of church as a noun. When I pressed them to think further they gave me some thoughts that I really agree with.

Doing church means serving others, glorifying God, and preparing ourselves both individually and communally to be the dwelling place of the Lord. 

Sunday is the day where we can all convene, but it does not stop when you exit the doors, so I’d like to challenge you to not think of our services as “coming to church” but as a way to “do church”.  With this mindset of doing church, devoting ourselves to functioning as the body for God on earth, we should be living lives dedicated to always serving God every day. Not just Sunday mornings alone.

What does the church Do? 

Having this working definition of church it is important to figure out what the church does. Fortunately for us, the Bible is not silent on this matter. We have a lot to do. It is important to know that we don’t work for our salvation though. We work as a result of our salvation, as a demonstration of our faith. 
Ephesians 2:8-9 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
 James 2:17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Worship: One of the important things to do at church is to worship together as a way to glorify God. 

Ephesians 5:19 ...speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music to the Lord in your heart .
It doesn't matter if you can’t sing like Chris Tomlin, Rich Mullins, Carrie Underwood, or someone else who has a “good” voice.  Belt out the words to the Lord, because he doesn't check pitch, he looks at the heart. And thank God for that, because if he did check pitch. . . Well you can just ask my siblings about my singing voice.

Fellowship and Prayer:  

Acts 2:42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
We should also be using the church as a whole to celebrate those who are being baptized and committing themselves to the idea that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God. We should also be publicly declaring our belief in that statement as we weekly come around the communion table.

We are also called to love each other. 

John 13:35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

And there are no “ifs” “ands” or “buts” about it. We need to be loving everyone. If we want to call ourselves followers of Christ we cannot choose who we love and who we don’t love. We must love each other -- no exception. That is how people know we are followers of Christ, they will see that we are different. If you ever need help to love someone, think about yourself with your own times where you fell short of God’s glory. Then remember that God still loved you just the same as he did before, and he does so even now. Realizing that God is that loving,  I think it makes loving anybody else significantly easier. 

Going beyond just believers, choose to help everyone.

Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” 
So since we are working as the body of the Lord, we have a responsibility to help even the least of these.

Romans 12:13  “Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” 

We can assume is also important to help our brothers and sisters who may be struggling. Whether it is emotionally, physically, financially, or spiritually, we need to be striving to be attentive to the fact that others may need our help, and if we are to call ourselves Christians, part of our gig is to go and help them. The Lord has given us many blessings and talents. We need to be investing them in his kingdom, because that’s why we've been given them.

We as Christians are charged to go and make disciples just as Christ commanded us. 

William Temple, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury during World War II states that “The church is the only cooperative society in the world that exists for the benefit of its non-members.” 

Just look at the great commission that Christ left us with.
 “Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

I’m going to go out on a limb here, but it seems kind of hard to go and make disciples when the only time we are thinking of God, is when we are sitting in these chairs for an hour on Sunday. When the only time we are opening ourselves to growth is when we might stick around for Sunday school once or twice a month. When the only time we pray is before communion and offering and maybe before a few meals during the week.

My friends and I up at school have had long conversations (one of the more prominent ones I can think of lasted I think around 4 hours) about the importance of serving and church, and I think the only way we can really meet this goal, of actively engaging in church, is if we get rid of this “Sunday-only” mindset of church.

You can go build houses, you can travel across the country to help devastated communities, fly to a country to deliver Bibles, or you can just buy a cup of coffee for someone and have a conversation with them. Each and every one of us has been given unique gifts to reach out to others in our own unique way.
Galatians 3:28  "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." 
Remember to, that as we as a church need to be unified as one in Jesus. Meaning to devote ourselves and our ways to him. To do church we need to worship, pray, love, serve, and grow together.
Ecclesiastes 4:12 “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
When we try to go our own ways we’re more fried than a McDonald’s Kid’s Meal. But when we are together, serving Christ, nothing is going to stop us.

Why Does it Matter?

There are those who say that church does not matter, they are quick to point out all the shortcomings of the church. So let me say this and be very open and candid about it, the church is not perfect. 
Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” 
This is nothing new, as humans we continue to fall. Our churches are not perfect, and the world church is not perfect, but we serve a perfect God. We are all striving to obey in his commands, and church is vital to achieving that goal. 
Church matters. 

The verse below is generally a verse we look at to see the relationship between a husband and wife. Let’s look at this verse from the lens of the church. 
Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” 
We see that Christ has done a lot for the church. This is because we are his bride.  He has cleansed us and made us without a blemish.  To not be actively engaging in church is essentially committing spiritual adultery. 
Church matters.
1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
It lays out that we are the active vessel for God’s work. That God has equipped us with many blessings with unity and with mercy to go out and do his work. The church has the incredible privilege to glorify and serve the Lord, the maker of the Universe. 
Church matters.

As Christians in the church we are brought together to build and grow as we see in Ephesians 2:19-22. We grow and become strengthened together and create a dwelling place for God to live. For God to live. Church matters.

It is more than simply sitting and listening to someone talk for 30 minutes. It is engaging in a community of believers, and going out to serve and bring more members to that community. 

Someone from my Bible study made this quote, and it has been sticking in my mind, “If people suck, the church sucks” so let’s dedicate ourselves to pouring out love and desiring to make church great!

There are people out there in the world, who have rejected church, who have strayed from the path of God, and for them, you may be the only time they see Jesus. That means as a community we should be striving to dedicate ourselves to emulating Christ, because we are his bride. Lets look our best for him. Maybe instead of meeting Christ at the door of heaven with the spiritual attire equivalent of sweat pants and a sloppy shirt. We can come together as a church and come with a spiritual attire of the finest gown. That is the garment that Jesus gave us when he died on the cross, his garment of righteousness, so that we may look pure before God.

Jesus has a drawing effect. He came and died for our sins free of charge. So when we come up to the register to have to pay for our sins, Christ came up and said “nah man, I got a coupon, you’re free to go!” That’s powerful. So if we are truly emulating Christ, we should be drawing people to church, and toward God.

Do church, congregate to put on those robes of righteousness that Christ has given us, and let’s commit ourselves to going out to the world just as God has commanded us, so that we can draw more people to him.

A church can either be a cruise ship or a battleship.

On a cruise ship, everyone expects to be waited on and entertained. 

On a battleship, everyone is trained for a specific job and works with others as a team. 

Is our church a cruise ship or a battleship?  I've got news for you, we are in a heated battle on this earth to bring other people to Jesus and water slides and buffets are not going to win this battle. We need to be committed to doing church, to going out into the world, loving everyone (and I mean everyone), and bringing them to Jesus. 

That’s why church matters. 

Written by Phillip Strunk Jr.  

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