I frequently hear people say things like “I believe in God and Jesus, but I don’t have to go to church.” I understand where they are coming from. I mean it seems often the church is a place to go show off how good we are. It is a place where people are fake and pretend to have it all together. It is a place to feel guilty about the things we have done wrong and vow to do better… until Monday comes.
I understand where they are coming from, but I firmly believe they are wrong. I also believe the Church shouldn’t be any of the things listed above. So, why is Church important? Why does the Bible encourage us so strongly to be involved? I think there are two reasons. Community and mission.
So what does that mean? I was hoping you would ask. Lets start with community. The Church should be a place where we as Christians can come for help. It should be a “safe place” where we can be honest and broken. It should be a place we can feel loved unconditionally and know when we fall we are surrounded by people who can help us get back up.
Community means when one of us hurts, we all hurt together. It means when one of us rejoices, we all rejoice together. It means we have our lives invested in the lives of those around us. When I read Acts, I see this kind of community. When I go to church, I see glimpses of it, and I desire to see more. I desire to join into community and invest myself in the lives of others. I desire to have the comfort of knowing others are invested in my life as well.
And what about mission? The second purpose of the Church is to be the salt and light of Jesus to the world. If we are successful with mission, the world will look more like the Kingdom of God because we were in it. Our neighborhoods and cities will see Christ in us and experience Christ through us.
This doesn’t necessarily mean we run “outreach programs” to reach our community, though it can. It means we as a Church show love to our community. The poor are cared for, the broken and hurting are healed. The world around us should look a bit more like the Kingdom because we are here.
So what if your Church doesn’t seem to embrace community and mission? First of all, the Church is more than the leadership and pastors. The Church is us. Start there. Embrace community and mission yourself, pursue it with those around you. It will catch on and grow. Find opportunities to invest yourself in the lives of those around you. Find opportunities to share love, to be generous, to show compassion, to embrace justice. The world will be better for it, and so will you.