The Church: Building Bridges Among the Body of Christ.
The church seems to be a controversial topic these days. We are finding a huge population of believers rejecting the traditional mode of gathering for worship with the people of God. They are also rejecting many established ways of ministering to believers. I have read numerous reasons for this. Some very valid, some not so much. This summer, I would love to explore this phenomenon in a series called The Church: Building Bridges Among the Body of Christ.
I want to start out with a few things that I think are foundational:
- the church is not denominations or buildings
- the church is the totality of those who follow Jesus
- the church gathered is a small(ish) group of believers coming together to be equipped to minister to one another and to the lost
- the church is a family
- the church is the expression of Jesus here on earth
- the church is characterized by those who worship the One True God
Loving the people of God.
Our Sunday School class has been going through the Psalms of Ascent (Ps. 120-134). These are Psalms that were written over time but were sung annually as Israel traveled back to Jerusalem. They are called ‘ascent’ because the people were actually ascending up to the city, which was built on a mountain, as they were singing these Psalms.
As we looked at Psalm 122, I was deeply struck by the joy of this Psalm. But more specifically, the joy in gathering with the people of God; in coming to the house of the Lord.
A Song of Ascents, of David.I was glad when they said to me,“Let us go to the house of the LORD.”Our feet are standingWithin your gates, O Jerusalem,Jerusalem, that is builtAs a city that is compact together;To which the tribes go up, even the tribes of the LORD—An ordinance for Israel—To give thanks to the name of the LORD.For there thrones were set for judgment,The thrones of the house of David.Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:“May they prosper who love you.“May peace be within your walls,And prosperity within your palaces.”For the sake of my brothers and my friends,I will now say, “May peace be within you.”For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,I will seek your good.
Now I realize that we shouldn’t compare a church building with the temple. They are NOT the same thing. In fact, scripture tells us that WE are now the temple of Holy Spirit – that the God who chose to dwell between the cherubim on the ark, now dwells within those who follow Jesus.
But these were people who had lost the focus of their worship: the temple. It had been destroyed, they had been carried off in exile. After decades they were allowed to return, to rebuild, to worship. The emotion this evokes is powerful.
The more I learn of worship, the more I find I know so little of it.
Worshiping with the people of God.
“The church is filled with hypocrites.”
“No one is worshiping in that church.”
“It’s all just a show in XYZ church.”
“Their music is too loud.”
“Their music is too stodgy.”
“Why can’t they have a coffee bar?”
“What is a coffee bar doing in church?”
The questions and condemnations go on and on. Perhaps you have been guilty of some of them.
I am not going to get into the whole seeker sensitive idea. I only know that local churches around the world have been trying to deal with criticisms of the way we ‘do church’. Some ideas have worked, others have failed.
The question always comes down to this: do you love to gather with the people of God?
This is NOT the same as asking do you love going to church.
Do you love talking with believers about Jesus? Do you enjoy impromptu times of worship? Do you naturally fall into talk of scripture or the wonders of the Lord?
Do you love to gather with the people of God?
As I explore many topics in this series this summer, I will have some guest posters. I hope to have a couple of video interviews and/or dialogue-style videos. I want to look at how we can bridge the gap that seems to be widening among the generations and bring the family of God, the people of God together in love.
The thing I’m seeing more and more is that we need to recognize and accept that things will look different in different generations. The goals should be the same: to raise up a mature church, to reach the lost with the message of redemption and hope and to worship God together as a family.
I’m looking forward to this time of exploration. I really desire your prayers. And I would love to hear your comments and thoughts.