Coffee, Theology and Jesus

working out our messy faith over coffee

Category: Worship

You. Are. Church.

If I sound like a broken record too bad. Ok that sounds mean.

I realize that sometimes my posts might come across as redundant, but when it comes to the Church, to the body of Christ, nothing (besides the work of Christ) can be more important. After all Christ believes in His bride. He gave His life for it, He established it, and He entrusted us with His message of redemption, grace, and restoration. This is why I’m always talking about the Church. This is why I’m so passionate about keeping the heart and mission of His body at the center, and not our politics, events, and red tape that sometimes we accidentally make the focus.

I’ve been thinking for years now about what it is exactly a lot of people who profess to be part of the Church miss. No, it’s not salvation, but I think it’s an understanding of what they are a part of. It seems too often we are too caught up in the Sunday morning meeting and we forget that the Church is not the sunday morning service but it is the people that come together to meet with each other and celebrate what The Lord has done and is continuing to do. Church is people. It is you and I. You. Are. Church. That is what this post is about. Recognizing your identity and walking in it 24/7.

Changing the format of “church”, changing the name, changing the way we’ve always done things, is not the answer to getting the body to recognize and walk in its identity and calling. In fact when the a local body recognizes its identity as the hands and feet of Christ, the Sunday morning service and other common Church functions are compliments. They are very good things that we must not throw out but must maintain. However, We must begin to teach and instruct the body on what they are participating in. This to me is one of the big things we sometimes miss. We assume that the people know that the Church is not a building or just a sunday morning meeting. But people assume that all the time. On top of that, sometimes we send mixed signals. Let me give you can example.

I was at a church service sometime ago. The pastor walked on to the stage and says “Are you excited to be in the house of God” to which the congregation gave an enthusiastic yes! The pastor said this at least 3-4 times during the coarse of his sermon. At the very end however he said “how many of you know the Church is not a building, but it’s people” to which the congregation responded by raising their hands (in this case the majority). This made me think “well which is it? Is the Church the building or is it the people?” This is a very confusing thing to hear (especially when people are not very familiar with church). It frustrates me greatly to hear people say things like welcome to the house of God, because according to scripture God dwells in people. We are the temple that the Spirit of God dwells in and when we make statements like “welcome to the house of God” we lead people to assume that we are talking about the building we are in.

I use this example because I think at some point the majority of sunday morning attendees have heard this phrase thrown out from the stage and it is simply not accurate. In my view it does more damage because it instills the idea that Church is a place we go to on Sunday morning as opposed to the view that Church is a body of people who are representations of Christ in their life, they meet together on Sunday mornings to celebrate Christ and His work. See the difference?

True Identity. That is my solution to this problem. If we being to teach the Church what there true identity is I think we can revitalize a sometimes stagnant Church. I mean let’s be honest the Church is in some ways very active, and in other ways very dormant. We are getting more and more outside of our four walls, this is a very good thing, but in a rush to get people out the door we’ve sometimes missed instructing them on their identity. God’s answer to brokenness in the world is the Church. The Church is the hope of the world. I am so convinced of this because I have seen the Church be the hope of the world. I watched when hurricane Sandy hit Christians volunteering their time to help families rebuild their homes. Local Church bodies that owned a building opened it up for people who had no place to go. I get to read stories of the Church (people) working in third world countries to stop human trafficking. The Church, the body of Christ is the hope of the world because we are Christ in the flesh. As Paul says, we are His hands and His feet, we are little Christs’ (Christians) representing the heart of Christ when he lived among us.

I can not express this idea enough. Our view of the word Church must be greatly expanded. Not only is the Church a group of people that meet on Sunday morning, they are a living body that exists even when the doors are shut.

If you are a Christian, congratulations you are Church. When you leave Sunday morning service guess what? You’re still Church. When you’re at work on Monday you are Church and you represent Christ in that work environment. I could go on and on, but you get my point. And let’s face it, I’ve said this stuff before and I won’t stop saying this because it is so crucial to the world and to Christianity.

Let me put it this way. Roughly 75% of Americans identify as Christians. If we could get all of them to realize their identity in Christ, that they are the hands and feet of God, the Church, that they can change the world for good, wouldn’t that be amazing? I won’t stop preaching this message of the potential in the Church. It’s what’s on my heart and it can literally change the world, it can solve poverty, it can solve hunger, it can bring hope to the hopeless, restoration to the broken, life to the dead, and true love to the world. The Church is what Christ established, it is the hope of the world. I won’t watch it be squandered and caught up in red tape, church politics, meaningless splits, denominations that won’t work with each other because of “belief differences” and other things that ultimately do nothing to encourage followers of Christ to walk in their identity 24/7.

Sunday Mornings, Why Are They Always The Same?!

By this time in my blog, I’ve made it pretty clear that I started this not to bash, tear down, or negatively criticize Christianity and the Church.  Granted, I’ve had my moments perhaps of being overly critical, but I assure you the reader it’s out of a heart that loves the Church like crazy.  It’s on my mind every day.  Thinking about ways to be more like Christ, ways the Church can love the world, ways to disciple each other and to live more in the gospel than just a few times a week.  Keep that in mind during this post.  I’m not here claiming to have the corner on the only way to be the Church, I’m simply throwing my ideas and reasoning behind my ideas.

I’m going start off blunt and honest.  I am bored to tears on Sunday mornings more times than not.  I’ve been attending the Sunday service consistently for 20 years and rarely have I seen a church body do a Sunday service radically different then the normal.  It’s boring, it’s drawn out, it’s static (the opposite of the God we serve), and   it’s repetitive.  I’m not trying to sound rude here, I’m just being honest about my view of it.  The Sunday service is pretty much unchanged from Sunday to Sunday. Even “special” services hold to the same rigid format of a Sunday morning service.

Every week millions of people go to a building, sit in seats that face the front stage, listen to announcements, a couple worship songs, a reason why you should give the Church money, a sermon (usually around 3 points), a closing prayer and then a dismissal.  This is how we do Sunday mornings (for the most part).  Your local church might add or take away a few things, but this is the structure we participate in.

My question I’m asking myself is this: “Is this the only way?”.   Now before I go further I don’t want you to misunderstand me.  I’m not saying that the traditional way is bad, or evil, or wrong.  I’m simply asking why can’t we be free to worship our living God in unique ways every Sunday? Why does it only seem like Church service counts if there is a sermon and worship songs?  Why do we the Church feel almost trapped into doing Church the same way every Sunday?

In this post I want to focus on one aspect of the Church service in particular.

This thought I have been thinking through over the past few days.  Specifically the sermon.  I was in a Church service Sunday and the pastor was giving the sermon for the morning service.  As I was listening my mind wandered (it does this all the time, the pastor is a great man, it was not because of him or his message) and I thought to myself “do we need to have a sermon preached for the Church meeting to be counted as an official church meeting?”.   As I began to dive in to this I started thinking about other ways people can be taught the Word.

My point isn’t to say that preaching sermons or bad or we need to stop doing so.  My point is to wake us up out of our trance! To be creative and imaginative in the way we preach the the Word of God.  Sometimes practical examples are easier to communicate.  Sometimes people need to practically experience what we are trying to teach them.  Imagine this example with me.

I’ve heard many people preach/teach on the subject of community.  What it looks like, how it works.  The problem with this though, is that community must be experienced.  It can not be just taught, community is not a concept, it’s a tangible expression of the Kingdom of God.  Could you imagine if you walked in to your church building and instead of pews or chairs there were tables set up.  Long ones, and every table was full of breakfast food.  Bagels, eggs, coffee, the works!  Then your pastor got up to the mic and addressed the congregation and said something like this; ” Today we worship God by celebrating His Son dying for us so we can live forever.  As we eat and celebrate this together talk about what He has been doing in your life.” Can you imagine this? Imagine the celebration? Imagine the conversations that people would engage talking about the Lord, what He is doing in their lives.  I know this works because I’ve been a part of things like this.  I’ve sat down with 20,30,40 believers around tables of food and talked about how good God is, what He is doing in our lives.  They have been some of the best church services I’ve ever been a part of because I was a part of the church meeting, not just a passive spectator sitting down watching a performance.

I want to close by saying this.  I’m not saying to replace what we do with things like this.  I’m saying to add on to what we do with things like this.  We can not be afraid to change our Sunday morning meetings up a little bit.  It’s ok to get out of our buildings on a Sunday morning and to serve the community by living out the Gospel of Christ.  It’s ok to teach congregations in a different way then giving them three take home points.  It’s also ok to use those three points when the times call for them, but it’s not the only way to teach people about the Kingdom.  Jesus spoke in parables, Jesus also healed people, Jesus also preached.  Jesus taught in many ways, not just one static format.  We as a church should live in this freedom, using our creativity to teach sound doctrine to people who are starving for it.

The Man, The King, The Son of God (A Worship Thought) – Rob

This has been on my mind recently; reading through the accounts of the crucifixion in the gospels we have three phrases that I have personally really enjoyed. These phrases were spoken by men who were actually involved in the action. Two of them were made by Pilate and one by a centurion.

“Behold the man” – Pilate
Pilate had no idea the truth involved in those words. He really never fully grasped the magnificence that this individual before him was indeed a man. We often sing “Verily God yet become truly human, Lower than angels to die in our stead.” Jesus was a man and it was a requirement for the plan of salvation. Pilate desired everyone to look at Christ that day as “a man” and have pity upon Him! Maybe if they could see that He was one of them (a Jewish man) they would let Him go. He was recently beaten and had a crown of thorns and a mock robe. Pilate was only looking for some pity as they gazed upon this man, but none was found. Despite their reaction, they were indeed looking upon the man. Can we not apply this to our lives and worship? Christ became a man for our sake; to die on a cross. We read in John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us,” meaning he “tabernacled” or made His dwelling/home among us. The God of eternity who had eternal glory in Heaven made his dwelling among men. That should motivate us to a life devoted to service for Him and worship from hearts of unspeakable joy as we “Behold the man.”

“Behold the king” – Pilate
Again, I don’t believe Pilate knew exactly what he was saying. I do believe he was attempting again to appeal to the masses. A bruised, beaten, and disfigured man stood before them and in his innocence he cried “behold the king.” The Jews replied with another rendition of “Crucify Him!” Perhaps the discussion with Christ about truth made Pilate realize who Christ was and he again tried to plead with the crowd on His behalf. Pilate must have heard many things about Christ and I’m sure one of them was that He is “the King of the Jews.” He tried to persuade the crowd with these words but it only fueled their thirst for blood as they cried out “We will not have this man to reign over us!” However, was not Christ the true King of Israel? Was He not the King of all creation? Should this also not affect our lives and worship? As we live here on earth are we aware of our King? If I had my eyes constantly on the King I would be so much more willing to live for Him and submit every part of my life to Him. And my worship? Well I would see Him as King and the one who deserves all of my worship and it would alone go to Him.

“This was the Son of God” – Centurion
I think this phrase is the one that impresses me the most. This centurion may or may not have known much about Christ but he witnessed that crucifixion first hand. He saw the three dark hours and felt the earthquake. I’m sure he heard each of the cries of Christ on the cross. The forgiveness, the love, the obedience, and the sacrifice were all seen by him. What was his impression? He proclaims that the man who was cruelly treated and crucified was none other than the Son of God. What a statement! What a realization! I can’t wait to talk to this man in Heaven (yes, I’m sure he will be there). Will he be equally impressed with my life and worship? When I view Christ does my heart proclaim “This is the Son of God!” If only I would have my eyes on that my worship would be all the more meaningful.

Let our lives and worship be augmented by these three simple phrases as we behold the man, the king, and the son of God.