I woke up this morning at 4:28 and I have walked with the Lord long enough to know a call to prayer when I hear it. For the last few days I have had a growing concern for my kids, who are adults now, with their own families. I originally thought this message was for just for them, but I believe it also applies to each of you.
First, I strongly urge you to find a church to attend regularly. Not just to attend on Sunday mornings (or a Messianic fellowship that meets on the Sabbath), but to “sink our teeth” into the church to mix and mingle with the members.
Back in 1961, Elton Trueblood wrote a book entitled, “The Company of the Committed.” I realize this was written many years ago, but his arguments, in some cases, still seem to be valid. He argued that,
“It is hard to exaggerate the degree to which the modern Church seems irrelevant to modern man. The Church is looked upon as something to be neither seriously fought nor seriously defended. A church building is welcomed, partly because it provides such a nice place for a family wedding; and, after all, most families expect weddings, sooner or later. A church is also a good place to send the children on Sunday morning—they might learn something helpful, and certainly the experience of being sent will do them no harm. The point is that such conceptions are wholly consistent with the idea that the Church has only marginal relevance. We do not expect, for the most part, to find the gospel centered in a burning conviction which will make men and women change occupations, go to the end of the earth, alter the practices of governments, redirect culture, and remake civilization.”
Wow! I realize this rather harsh, but I think we can find a task force of committed men and women who truly care for our God, for the church, and for other people. Such a “valiant band for Christ” (as Dr. Trueblood calls it) would revitalize the church and transform society–and your family.
When you find that group, join in the celebration; participate in the worship; offerings; activities. When the church I currently attend was much younger, we rented an auditorium in a local business school, so every Sunday morning a group of us would come to set up chairs and prepare the classrooms. But I bet a good number of those who attended never knew what we had to do to make our time of worship happen.
The fellowship has grown, but many are still required to prepare the wine and wafers for communion; water for whoever was teaching and all kinds of other tasks to prepare for the worship service. Your church needs folks to join in the tasks before the worship services.
But that is only part of it. I encourage you to find a small group where you can meet other believers to fellowship with during the week; mingle with; call; when there is a need, you join in to meet that need–and when you have a need, are able to share that need with some others, so they can meet your need. Too many young couples are trying to make it on their own, and not willing to surrender themselves to another group of believers. Hopefully you do have strong support from you physical family, but sometimes even they are not enough.
This small group can be, but doesn’t have to be, a young couples group, or group built around young families. If you are older, how about finding a group you can relate to? The group does not have to be your exact age. I actually recommend you find folks you can “look up to,” and receive encouragement and support from–as well as group of folks you can support and encourage.
Recently, due to financial needs, some dear friends had to move to a state several miles away, but they wrote to me and said, “So many people have been so gracious and loving to us . . . they’ve loved us since we walked in the door . . . it’s the best group I’ve ever had. I’ve never been in such a close knit group. I’m so honored and loved, it’s great!” That my friends is what every church should be like.
I know there are all kinds of “mega-churces” out there, but are they truly meeting the needs of the people? Those of you who are members of a “mega-church,” are you there to “feed others,” or simply there to be “fed.” My only concern is that those churches only fill the need for “itchy ears,” and do not build a fellowship of “close knit” believers who meet each others needs. Do you have a church, a fellowship, that you attend, or are you actually a “member.” The distinction should be quite obvious.
What about this group, is it really a part of “The Church“—or did they simply steal the label?
I say that because some churches are primarily “mission centers.” They have the thermometer up in front and the map on the wall and the people hear a bunch of missionary reports from the pulpit. Okay, I openly acknowledge that every church is supposed to spread the Good News in every possible way, but was that our Lord’s chief intention for the Church?
Some churches are above everything else, information centers. Their main purpose is to pour out biblical material, and the buzzwords are teachings and teachers. The people come to fill their notebooks and their heads, and the ones with fat notebooks and full heads are the spiritual winners. (No, I did not say what you thought I said!)
Again, I have to ask, is that our Lord’s idea of the Church’s highest function?
Other churches are mainly program centers. They are platforms—stages, really—which have one extravaganza after another. Most of all the music is too loud and there is a lot of “hand clapping,” but not a lot of “knee bending.” (I hope you caught that). You hear, “Man, if you thought this Sunday was good, wait till next week! We’re going to have a gospel magician, three singing groups, and a ventriloquist with a dummy who looks like Moses who will blow your mind!” How about this, did our Lord’s eternal plan mean for Christianity to merely be equivalent to Christian “show biz?”
Some churches are fellowship centers, where the emphasis is on body life and relational theology and discipling and small groups and the function of gifts and all that. Relationships are great, but still, was this our Lord’s first goal for His Church when He planned for it “before the foundation of the world?”
Then we see some churches as counseling centers or rescue missions or training schools. All these are good and important and must be a sign of its work, and all this may be part of what we are trying to do or be. However, my question is whether these functions achieve His central focus for The Church?
I would argue, no. The Lord ordained the Church for himself. The Church’s chief function, as also the individual believer’s function, is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. He himself must be the first priority of the church!
So if you attend a church, which I strongly suggest you do, where is it is that list? And, where are you, in that church’s goal?
That is all for this morning. I will have some more I need to share, but to my children, especially, please find a church close to where you live, where you can be “members” and not just “attenders.” Find and fellowship that will draw you to our Father and will help you grow closer to our Lord! Our time is running short, and we need to focus more energy on seeking–and finding–our Lord and to discover the wonder and delight of His presence in our lives.