Rethinking Church

I was thinking about churches this morning. I was also thinking about the Kingdom of God. It seems like most things in the Kingdom are “upside down” from the way we generally look at things.

At the Last Supper Jesus told His disciples He was giving them, present tense, the Kingdom, just as the Father had given Him the Kingdom. Luke 22:24-29. This occurs in the context of Jesus addressing their conversation about which disciple was the greatest. He tells them that the greatest is the one who is the least. The best leader is the one who serves. This is just one of many of the upside down principles of the Kingdom of God.

In America we have learned to build big companies to effect big profits. We run big businesses. Churches have followed this model. We tend to think about building bigger buildings, having larger congregations, and doing “bigger” things.

I know it’s not a new thing to say this, but I think we are missing the Kingdom with this philosophy. The Church isn’t the building or the corporation. It is you and me and where two or more agree.

What may be a bit more groundbreaking is how to reverse the trend we seem to be stuck in.

I think we need to get small to get bigger.

What I mean is that instead of focusing on bigger buildings and bigger churches we need to focus on small groups. The gathering of the Body of Christ in small numbers everywhere – in homes, in coffee shops, in parks – wherever. These small groups, if not focused on giving money to support huge church building costs, utilities, pastoral staff, and maintenance staff, would have a lot of finances to minister in their neighborhoods, cities, states, and to the ends of the earth. If they truly leaned on one another in every way they would be that much more freed up financially to minister more and more.

As for the larger Body of Christ, why wouldn’t entire cities and counties meet once a month at the local football stadium or basketball arena or other large meeting area? How inspiring would it be to see the Holy Spirit show up at a gathering of 20,000 or more believers? How amazing would it be to have huge prayer rallies of the local Body of Christ without everyone worrying about being a this or a that?

If we focused more on ministry and praying together and less on the right clothes to wear to church, the right way to do a baptism and the right way to talk about doctrinal points, we might just be more unified. And when we see more unity, John 17, we will see people looking at us and realizing Jesus is alive and at work in the world.

What do people really do at church buildings on Sunday mornings anyway? Do they grow closer together? If you ask someone on Wednesday what the sermon was about on Sunday do they remember? Even if they do, if you ask them the next question, about how it changed the way they lived that week, will they have an answer?

But, if you ask them about how God has answered prayers for people in their small group, will they know? The odds are much higher. If discipleship is happening at all, is it more likely happening in the small group people are a part of or through the sermons at church? Does discipleship more likely happen when we are out in the community serving together or in a home talking and praying together or when we sit in a pew or folding chair listening to a lecture?

I’d sure like to see more people reaching out across communities, beyond their church boundaries, to seek first God’s Kingdom and not the financial interests of their church business. I want to write more, but this has gone long. I’m curious as to others’ thoughts.

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