My friend Lew, from “The Pursuit“, recently moved to Athens, GA with his wife so that she could finish her college degree. A friend of his asked him where he was going to church now. Lew responded that he was not “going to church”, and he was not interested in “going to church”. His friend didn’t understand, so this was Lew’s explanation:
I am very interested in meeting with other Christians to fulfill the things that Scripture seems to indicate that we should fulfill (i.e. Encourage one another to maturity, stimulating each other to love and good deeds, etc.). I have generally come to the opinion that what happens on Sunday morning prevents most Christians from actually doing what Scripture says we should do. The lack of participation and involvement from all believers doesn’t seem to match what I see Scripture describing. I find myself sitting in a chair for one-two hours listening to one person talk about something that I already know… then it’s time to leave. I generally feel like I could spend my time better somewhere else. I guess what I’m looking for is not always the same as “going to church”. I’m more interested in sharing Christ with other believers and non-believers.
I love this response! No, there’s nothing wrong with “going to church”, but there’s not necessarily anything “right” with “going to church” either. The question is not, “Do you go or do you not go?” The question is, “Why do you go? And what do you do when you go?” There is nothing sacramental about attending a church meeting.
In Scripture, we see believers gathering together very often – sometimes daily. But WHY did they gather together? They gathered together so that they could encourage one another (edify one another) toward maturity in Christ and toward love and good works. They exhorted one another to love God and love others.
But, their meetings were the tip of the iceberg – so to speak. The only reason there was life together in the meetings was because there was life together outside of the meetings. They did not live individualistic lives – separate from their brothers and sisters in Christ – but, instead, they lived life together – sharing the good and the bad, the tears and the laughter, the excesses and the needs.
So, along with Lew, I don’t care about “going to church”. Instead, I desire to live life among a group of brothers and sisters in Christ, so that we can mutually encourage one another toward faithfulness to God and love and good works toward other people. Will this happen if I “go to church”? Maybe… maybe not. Will this happen if I stop meeting together with other believers? Nope. Will this happen if I only meet together with other believers once or twice a week? No again.
How will this happen? When we live our lives together in community – with Jesus Christ being the center and head of that community.