Don’t just GO to church…BE the church.
You’ve heard me say that a lot over the last couple of years. That statement comes from a deep-seeded conviction in my heart about the local church. As I read the book of Acts and the letters of Paul, Peter, and John, I am amazed at their success.
What the Church didn’t have
Think about it. They didn’t have air-conditioned worship centers with padded chairs or pews. They didn’t have screen and projectors or hymnals. They didn’t have pianos, organs, guitars, or drums.
They didn’t have lights. They didn’t have electronic Bibles or even hard copy Bibles. They didn’t have KJV or ESV. No NIV either. There was no PA system, no PowerPoint. And no Sunday bulletin. How in the world did they survive … much less thrive?
The first century church did not enjoy governmental favor or constitutional religious freedom. They didn’t have the right to vote for a candidate of their choice. They didn’t have to worry about losing their tax exemption status. They had no exemption.
There was no Sunday school, no Wednesday night prayer meeting, and no committee. Imagine that. No committees. How did they ever get anything done?
Yet for all the didn’t have, they were largely responsible for the spread of Christianity throughout their known world. Yet, we have all of the above and not only are we not spreading the faith, we are losing ground to our culture. The world in which we live is less Judeo-Christian than it has been since our nation’s founding.
What the Church did have
I believe their secret is found in the first four words of Acts 2:42, “And they devoted themselves …” They were devoted, first of all, to their spiritual growth. They made personal Bible study and prayer a priority in their lives. Since they were the church, the church would grow only if they grew.
They were devoted to each other. We see words like fellowship, breaking bread, in common, together. They placed the needs of others ahead of themselves. The first century church was successful because there was not one hint of selfishness. They went to the temple together. They had all things in common together.
Then finally, they were devoted to serving their community. They found “favor with all the people” (vs. 47). The fellowship of believers loved each other and people outside of the fellowship held them in high esteem. They cared about their community.
Time to be the Church
So, as 2020 marches forward, let me challenge your thinking about church. Quit going to church. Yes, you read that correctly, but read on or you will be mistaken.
Quit going to church and start being the church.
Have a plan and implement it for growing through Bible study and prayer. Be involved in a local church and serve there. Then live out your faith every day, everywhere.
Assemble with the church on Sunday. In fact, if you don’t assemble with the church, you will find it more difficult to be the Church. But BE the church wherever you are the other 167 hours of the week.
Jim Duggan serves as pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Macon. This post first appeared at his blog.