Does Church Still Matter?
I sat here for a minute wondering how to begin. There’s not really a delicate way to open this topic and maybe there shouldn’t be because sugar-coating isn’t honesty. Sugar-coating doesn’t bring about change. It doesn’t challenge people to look at something in a different way or admit that maybe they feel this way too. Too much sugar puts us into a coma. Biting down on a bitter slice of lemon, though, might just wake us up.
I grew up thinking church was where we went to act perfect (wearing a Sunday dress, curling your hair, and putting a smile on your face) instead of where you go to be made whole (admitting that you are broken, hurting, hungry, and longing to know unconditional love).
When people outside the church are nicer to you than those inside the church, when you feel like an outsider no matter how many years you’ve attended or how many activities you go to, when you hear more gossip inside those sacred walls than outside (not only as a teenager but still as an adult) – you start to wonder what church really is.
What’s the purpose? Why are we really here? Do we really care about the struggling family in front of us or the wife behind us whose husband stays home…? Or are we just here to pay our Christian dues?
Cue the music, raise your hands, shake some hands, drop the offering in the plate, half-way pay attention to the sermon, check the time when your stomach starts to grumble, bow your head, say “Amen,” and next week do it all again…
Cue the bitter taste of lemon in your mouth.
It may not sound so sweet, but it’s the truth, or has been at some point, for too many of us. I’ve played that routine.
When church is just a routine, it doesn’t change your life. When it becomes an exclusive club, it doesn’t reach the lost or heal the broken (inside or outside those walls). Church leaders all over say we need to show up, plug in, and get connected. Okay. But, when you show up and still feel alone because you’re not a part of the original club or fit conveniently into the sub-categories (meant to bring us closer but sometimes divide us more) – parents, singles, etc. – how the heck are you supposed to connect?
Are we really reaching those who need Jesus (inside or outside those walls), or are we excluding them?
We get so caught up thinking it’s the church’s job to do everything that we forget who the church is. You are the church. I am the church. He is the church. She is the church. And if you, I, he, and she aren’t reaching out, who is?
We don’t just need Jesus inside those walls. We need Him outside in everyday life. We need Him at dinner tables, baseball games, birthday parties, work, the gym, the streets…
Jesus got in trouble for eating with sinners. His response: “…It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)
We tend to label those outside the church as “sinners,” but we are all sinners, even those of us sitting inside the church. How can we reach beyond those walls though when we struggle to reach those already within them? We don’t think that we, or those sitting around us, need help because we’re already at church. Or, our help is a simple “I’ll pray for you.”
Now don’t get me wrong, prayer is important. We need prayer. We should absolutely be praying for each other. I appreciate when a friend says they are praying for me (especially when I haven’t told them that I need it). Being part of the body of Christ is more than just praying though. We need to be His hands and feet, and that might mean physically spending time with that friend in addition to saying “I’ll pray.” It might mean setting up a play-date for your kids and hers. It might mean inviting that other couple over to barbeque.
We need to see Jesus and have companionship outside those walls and church-sponsored activities, all of us. We need to see beyond the “Sunday smiles.” We need to see that outside those walls we are real people with real doubts, real problems, real pain and we need real friends with real honesty, real comfort, and even real laughter to heal our hearts.
Let’s stop the sugar-coating. Break the Christian bubble. It’s not protecting you. It’s isolating you. It’s keeping you from doing what He created you to do and it’s keeping you from the healing He is trying to put you through.
If we want the church to matter still, we have to matter to each other… inside and outside those walls.
Are you ready?
Be His hands and feet!