As mentioned in the last post, I am starting a series of sermons on the church and discipleship. So to prime the pump and get some initial conversation (hopefully!) going, here are a question to get us started:
What is the business of the church?
I know the word “business” may not be the most common word to talk about what the church’s mission is, but think about it. What is the church “producing?” What is the goal of the church? If you are a church-goer, you may want to think in terms of why you go to church – what do you hope will happen there, what do you hope to gain? You may be tempted to use the religious language of church – mission, salvation, discipleship, etc. Go ahead and use those terms, but then I challenge you to say more, using “non-churchy” language. Sometimes we are so used used to the language of the church that we get stuck when we are asked to put it into words others might better connect with. Personally, I find that the challenge of using non-churchy language pushes me to be more concrete to describe what I’m trying to say actually looks like in day to day life.
For those non-church goers who may be reading this, what would you, as a non-church-goer, think the “business” of the church should be, and why?
I await your input!
(If you accessed this from facebook, please leave your comments here, and not on facebook, so we have have the conversation in one place. Thanks!)
Comments on: "What is the business of the Church?" (8)
Thank you, everyone for your contribution to this conversation. Some may think asking the question about the “business” of the church is strange – we know what the church should be about! And yet while there are many commonalities in your responses, there are some differences too. Each of us brings our own unique understanding and experience of faith and scripture and church to bear on this question, and that is reflected in our responses.
It seems to me that there is an ebb and flow between the community nature of our faith and the individual nature of our faith. The church is primarily community – made up of individuals, but we are drawn together in faith to build each other up. How that happens and what is needed I think you all said well in your own responses, and it varies from person to person. But the church is also the individual going out into the world. We go out as individuals, carrying with us the whole fellowship of the church that nurtures us and equips us.
I loved what Carol Ann said, that the business of the church is outside of the church building. To focus exclusively on caring for ourselves is selfish – individually we are called to follow Jesus Christ by going out into the world and being the body of Christ in our places of work, at school, at the bus stop, etc. We are called to share the good news of God’s love with others, in the most concrete ways. We are equipped and strengthened to do that in the fellowship of the church. So it’s not one or the other, but both. It is the cares of the world and the cares of our own lives (among other things) that draws us to church, but in the fellowship of the church we are equipped to go out again into the world, to be salt and light.
Today I am working on my sermon for Sunday. As I settle on a main scripture, I will post that in a new post, and invite your reflections on that as well.
I agree with Shirlette. My daily reading of God’s word and prayer nourish my faith, but joining with other Christians to praise God in song and in listening to sermons brings me joy. The business of the church is to uplift one another and to spread the Good News through our daily words and actions, as well as through our service and our contributions to mission. I also believe it is our responsibility to respect and tend to God’s house, as well as to His people.
I view the church as community, all are welcome, no one will be turned away, embracing all those that enter its doors. The church is a safe haven for souls and we all have one, even if some don’t know it. As a church, we gather with like minded souls, to worship and praise God, to be renewed, strengthened, and encouraged. Not unlike a vehicle, we fill up with gas to keep the tank full so we can keep on doing our designed intent.
The church – -meaning its people — extends outward into the world of churched and unchurched to be like Jesus. To be Jesus’s hands, feet, and voice. We are to love each other, just as we are and not as others think we should be. To help the unchurched see Jesus in us, to plant a seed, to entice them to want what we have and yearn for it …..to yearn for Jesus.
I think the business of the church is to empower people to come to know God well enough that they are, in the end, given the eternal life that we are all searching for. There are various factors that help accomplish that goal, and for every person who goes to church, different combinations of those factors come into play to reach the goal.
When you go to church you hope to have an experience that will help you grow in your spiritual life. The strange part comes in when you look at what different people need to have happen to gain that experience on any given Sunday morning. This combination of factors is what makes or breaks a church in my mind. The more different people you can have relate to you, as an organization, the stronger your organization will be. However, you must temper that with the reality that spreading yourself too thin will cause more harm than good.
Even though I didn’t grow up at Eastridge, and to the best of my knowledge no one from my family has ever belonged to Eastridge prior to me, I often spend time in the church feeling that it is a way to connect to those who passed before me. I find this experience generally centers me, so that I can take on another busy week, or even busy few days. While hard to break out into business terms the closest I can come up with is that it’s almost like a paradigm shift in that I come into church with one way of viewing the world around me and quite often leave viewing the world in a different way.
I’m interested in Connie’s thoughts on focusing more on faith and worship and less on the programming and financials. I think there has been a focus on relating Christ’s mission into our busy lives and while Eastridge has done things like read the Bible in a year with focus groups, or offer chapter specific Bible studies over the years I am not sure if we have ever had discussions on the “suffering” of choosing to be a Christian that ocurred during Jesus’ time on earth and the fact that this is still a daily reality for Christians in some parts of the world.
I go to church to thank God for the gifts that he has shared wtih me, to ask for help and guidance in my life, and to participate in the “basic” activities of our church family. While we can worship anywhere, I really like to be in the sanctuary and I like the rituals assocaited with faith. While I know there is a focus in many churches on Faith and Fellowship, there are also times that I need private prayer and quiet worship.
I am not sure what I “gain” while I’m at church. It is hard to explain but after quiet time to worship, church helps me to feel renewed.
This may sound greedy or even selfish, but for those who are truly overcommitted in other parts of their lives there is a definite joy in participating in something with limited responsibilities. In church I can sit and be responsible for no one for an hour. I can praise God, I can speak with God, I can receive inspiration for the week, I can take communion, and, if I am so inclined, I can share my gifts (financial, musical, etc) while I am there, but none of those things are required. Our faith is personal, and so is what we gain from the physical presence and structure of a church. While many people derive joy from participating in the lives of others in their church, there are also times when we must recognize the need to recharge and offer our congregation the opportunity to do just that.
According to Matthew 28:18-20 the church is to “go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them…” Mark 16:15-18 says, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation…” Mark records some additional things as well that perhaps we feel more comfortable ignoring! Luke speaks like a professional; an educated man. He says in Luke 24:46-49 that “repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations.” Jesus’ encounter with John was very personal and is so very down to earth. In John 21:15-19 Christ gives the following instructions: “Tend my lambs.” “Shepherd my sheep.” “Tend my sheep.” “Follow me!” Then in Acts 1 Jesus reveals how in the world this can all happen! Acts 1:5 says, “…you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit…” And in Act 1:8 declares, “…But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Sounds to me like the business of the Church is outside of the church building; except for waiting for the baptism of the Holy Spirit…the equipping of those who are baptized believers to do the business of the Church!
Pure and simple, I believe the business of any Christian church is to save souls. Everything we do should be to work toward and support that goal.
Less programs. Fewer fund raisers. Less entertainment. More worship. More realistic picture of the Chrisitian life, e.g., hardships, trials and pains and God’s wisdom in seeing us through the tough times. Educate Christian apologists to help us defend our exclusive positions. Welcome those who come to church with heavy hearts and serious problems. Teach us to love GOD more, it will follow that we will love neighbor more.