On Sundays around 10:30 in the morning I often go to a meeting. It is normally held in a large building. There are lots of church there, all kinds – lovely people. There are men and women, children, babies – the old and young all gathering together.
They come from all walks of life. There are lawyers and painters, salesmen and waiters. There are Butchers and Bakers and Candlestick makers. There are…well, you get it.
The church gathers and sings beautiful love songs to God. We pray for each other and encourage and challenge each other to love greater and live bolder. Often someone speaks about the goodness of God. It’s a pretty cool thing to do on a Sunday morning.
One day while I was out for a drive, I passed one of the big buildings where we gathered on Sunday mornings and I noticed that the sign on the front lawn said church. It implied that the buildings name was “church.” I chuckled to myself. Somebody had a sense of humor.
However, over the next couple days I started seeing these signs everywhere. I began to feel concern; maybe this wasn’t a practical joke after all. Maybe some of the church had forgotten what church really was.
Then one day I ran into a man who wanted directions to church. I smiled, threw out my arms and said, “you found him!” He gave me a very confused, somewhat frightened look and then quickly drove away. It was then that I realized he wanted to know the location of the building we met in.
Suddenly the signs weren’t so funny. “This is not good. This is not good at all. This is dangerously close to that evil thing I heard about called religion. People should not think that the church is a place or even a set of beliefs.” Church is people, its an assembly of believers who know and express the love, restoration, healing and deliverance of God.
When people start thinking church is just a building or set of beliefs, they become sorely disappointed. Though buildings and a set of beliefs are good, they can never love you, heal you, pray for you, dream with you, challenge you…
When people forget what the church truly is, they become heart broken and disillusioned.
Kids who grow up never knowing that they are the church and that God is more that a nice guy in heaven who likes people to gather together on a Sunday morning for a religious experience…
These kids eventually start dreading “church.” They start doing anything they can to get out of going to "church". These kids start stealing their parent’s cars and driving like madmen, ignoring stop signs and even outrunning policeman – all in an effort to escape the doldrums of what "church" has come to mean – a name for a building.
But do not fear, there is hope! I have met many church who still remember what church is and they are waking up those who have forgotten. On Sundays at around 10:30 they gather and they love. They love God and they love eachother.
Kids have again experienced that they are the church, they are loved and becoming love. They have given dad back the car keys and even now they are dreaming of what a church who knows its identity can do in advancing the Kingdom!