Why should we go to church? Do we go to seek healing from our “brokenness”? Do we go to seek God’s will for our lives together with others who are searching for the same thing? Do we go there to worship God? Do we go for the beautiful music and the good feelings we have as we listen to it? Do we go because it is a requirement for salvation? Do we go to learn together with fellow Christians how to be disciples of Jesus? Bingo! You’ve got it!!
What is it that the church does that we should support it? Are we discipling people so that they can go into the world and fulfill Jesus’ commission? If we are not doing that, then perhaps we should support it as a nice social club, but not because it is the Church of Jesus Christ—because it isn’t.
In my opinion,most churches have things all turned around. In our selfishness and our conceit we think that the church is a building or group of people that exists somehow for our benefit. Isn’t that what all of the above, except the last statement, is saying?
Instead of “going to church” have we considered the “church going to the world?”
Jesus, the itinerant preacher, early in his career visited his home synagogue of Nazareth. It was the equivalent of “going to church” today. As he was already gaining fame, he was asked to read from the scrolls.. He read a passage taken from Isaiah 61, and he so infuriated them with his remarks after the reading that the synagogue as a body rose up in rage and took him and tried to throw him off a cliff outside the town. (Read Luke: 4:14-30 for the details!) Clearly the synagogue wasn’t in agreement when Jesus read his job description: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. They especially weren’t impressed when he told them he (Jesus) was the one that Isaiah was talking about. I can almost hear them say: “What is all this claptrap about the poor and the oppressed and the blind? Who does this simple carpenter’s son think he is anyway? What does all this stuff have to do with our church (synagogue)”?
If you read the gospels that tell of Jesus, it had everything to do with what churches should be doing. Jesus never founded a church. He never taught that people should go to church. Jesus committed the “good news of the gospel”to those who were his disciples. The church should be the gathering of those disciples today. You can read his commission to his disciples several places in the New Testament: In Matthew 28: 19-20 he commissioned them to “Go therefore 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 that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
A similar commission to his disciples is found in Acts 1:7-8 : It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The purpose of the church is to make disciples. If you are one of those disciples then your commission is to “GO INTO THE WORLD” , not just to “go to church.”
There is a world that is hurting outside the doors of our churches. There are children that are hungry. There is massive poverty. There is lack of medical care. There are people who are mentally ill not getting help. There are oppressed people. There are people in prison. There are people trying to turn their lives around. There are hopeless people that need a word of hope. There are people in despair. There are people in mourning over the death of a loved one. There are people who are warehoused in nursing homes with no family. There are people who are victims of human trafficking. There are people dying alone. There are people with no housing, living on the streets.
All of these are people to whom Jesus send us as his disciples, his church, when we “go into the world.”
All of these are people who need to hear and see in the lives of Jesus’ disciples the “good news” that God loves them and will care for them through Jesus’ disciples—that’s us! We need to go to church to prepare to be disciples, but we need to then go to the world and fulfill the commission given to Jesus’ disciples—-the church.