There is a good deal about the local church that the majority of Christians seem to miss out on. Many church attenders are spectators. We go to church, maybe have some casual conversation with people, sit in the same seats we sit in every week, read some songs off a PowerPoint or hymnal, listen to a sermon, maybe stick around for Sunday School, and then we are off to go about a weekly business.
The funny thing is I don’t think many of us would describe the church as that. We grasp that the church is supposed to be much more. The problem is that we often choose to opt out of all that. Church is our weekly spiritual fix. We go there for our kids to get some grounded lessons on how to live a moral life. Some of us take our kids expecting the church to fix all their problems after a few hours each week.
The church is required to fix everything wrong with our families, but it only has a few hours a week to do so. The church is required to keep us entertained. it is required to give us a reason to sit their and listen to those sermons. Since church is all about the sermon for us that pastor better keep things interesting. He better not get us to emotional. he better no get us thinking about needing to actually do more with our lives.
I believe we all have a part to play in the local church I am pro church membership when it is done properly. Church membership is not a club. it is an opportunity to join a team that is working towards common goal. That common goal should be to reach out to the community, and extend that reach to the end of the earth. We get involved in a local church to be under some solid leadership that can enact a plan to carry out that ultimate goal.
I think the average Christian would agree with all of this, but talk no action to carry it out. The church is filled with parents who ignore their responsibilities in training up their children in the way they should go. This is not to say that every parent with a troubled child has failed in their duties. Sadly some parents can do everything right, but a child’s heart will still remain rebellious. Where parents get foolish is when they expect the church to do al the work on “fixing” their children with such a short amount of time. The church isn’t just their to invest in your life. it is there to be a channel machine that allows you to invest in the lives of others.
Struggling with parenting? So is that woman who sits a few rows behind you. Maybe you could be taking that opportunity to minister to one another. The church is full of people with problems, but a healthy church knows how to help carry each others burdens. It saddens me how we miss out on this so much. It stems largely from the fact that Christians in our culture today are not nearly as outcast as they would like to believe they are.
We talk so much about the persecution we face today with God being taken out of the schools, government making things more and more difficult for churches. Threats of forcing clergy to marry anyone regardless of life choices. Threats of what preachers can and cannot say. I’m not saying the walls are not closing in. I’m not even saying that there will never come a day where the American local church will face real persecution (I in fact expect it), but we are not there yet. Do you want to know how I know this? Because the average local church is not yet forced to depend on the people inside of it. A truly persecuted church would see a skyrocketing increase in dependence. We would rely on one another more. We would depend on each other because we would literally have nowhere else to turn.
Here is the thing though, we don’t need persecution to start living like that. We don’t need persecution to recognize there are needs that have to be met within our own church walls. Paul often talks in Scripture about needing to help the needy, but he puts an extra emphasis on meeting the needs of the fellow saints. He actually puts a requirement to meet the needs of Christians first before others. Why is that? I think it is partly because believers only had the church to depend on. They were outcasts from their families and the rest of society, but I also think there is a deeper reason. How can we expect to meet the needs of the world when we will not even help those within our own church walls? If we are not meeting the needs of those in our local church it is because we have become spectator who expect the church leadership to fix all of our problems. A church spectator stands no chance of being a part of something bigger than themselves within their own church. How can they possible expect to be a part of something bigger than themselves that expands across the world?