What Does It Mean to “Do Church?”
I am an avid viewer of Youtube videos, specifically ones that discuss Christianity, doctrine, and most recently, the unity and separation of the church. Well-known and respected preacher/evangelist, and author, Francis Chan often presents arguments on the American Church, its popularity within church services and the praising and worshipping of pastors are only a couple of aspects he is highly critical of — -and I understand why. Disclaimer: this is not to say that Chan dismisses the good the American Church does; ie, missionary work, evangelism, training preacher pastors and teachers; however, he does make a point about a type of consumer-style and slapstick worship found in several American churches today. This way of “doing church,” I believe, is what holds a lot of Christians back from the authenticity and necessity of true worship and true repentance from our sins.
This notion of “doing church” isn’t new to the American Christian. When we talk about attending a service, we use the phrase “I’m going to church.” This ideology of doing church or going to church is not necessarily a bad tradition; but I wonder if most Christians realize that we are the church and that the building is….just a building. Side note: I wonder if Christians know that the original Christian churches also met in homes and that some churches started in homes and continue on that way to this day.
Now back to the main points: Does the attraction of what goes on in the buildings distracts us from a bible saturated lifestyle? Disclaimer: I am not telling any of you to do away with worship centers or your church buildings; all I am saying is; rather, all I am asking is: Are we too reliant upon the entertaining side of worship? Do we enjoy listening to one speaker more than another? Do we have to have a band in order for people to come? And when we preach, must we be on a constant mission to make the Bible more interesting? This is what I mean, and perhaps what Francis means by having a consumer-style of worship; in other words, we want “church” or service to be tailored to our preferences.
I am afraid that many preachers preach a message that serves itching ears (2 Timothy 4). Sometimes I wonder if we have ever heard sound doctrine, even more so, if we have what it takes to endure it. If the style is what we prefer, are we truly in worship with the Lord? Do we have the notion to turn and repent? Are our pastors teaching repentance or is the message solely on the favor in your life? When we leave service, do we leave with a sense of Godly sorrow and are compelled to repent of our sinful natures? Are we compelled to love others with the love of Christ? Are we compelled to resist not our enemy and love him instead? (Matthew 5:38–48) Or do we leave with the mere thought of whether or not we enjoyed service? There is nothing wrong with a joyful heart in worship of God, but we must be careful to worship God, and not the entertainment (or lack thereof) of “service.”
I write this to you because I do not want us to get sucked into consumer worship so much so that we forget that that entertainment won’t remind us that just because you go to church or just because you do church does not mean you are living a life holy and acceptable (Romans 12:1) unto Christ. We can do church and still willfully (intentionally) be in our sin, with no thought of repentance. Take note of sins, (sometimes I jot mine down), and confess them to the Lord. Scripture even points out that we should confess our sins to each other (James 5:16). Well, who are the “each other?” I’m glad you asked — THE CHURCH. WE are the church! And if we only gather to be entertained, if we only gather to get a word for ourselves without our brother or sister in mind, if we only gather to hear a certain speaker, or a certain band or choir, how do we serve each other as members of the one body?