If you are a Christian, this blog’s for you. If you aren’t a Christian, this blog is focused on a simple, fundamental, biblical principle that those of us who claim to follow Jesus should put others before ourselves.
“Why do you go to church?”
“Because it refreshes me. Because it draws me closer to Christ. Because I feel so energized when I worship corporately. Because I feel so calm and centered when I leave. Because I love it. Because I get the chance to spend time with other Christians. Because I feel so uplifted being around like-minded people. Because it is God’s plan.”
I could continue, but I won’t. I truly hope that all the reasons for going to church that I listed above are true for you. I hope you leave your church refreshed, energized, feeling more close to the Lord, centered on His Word, aligned with His Spirit. I hope you engage in the community there and allow your brothers and sisters to pour into you. I hope you leave with the satisfaction that you are being obedient to God.
Here comes the “but.” But I hope there is more to it.
If your reasons for coming to church stop at “me” and “I” then you should savor the time you are at your current church because you’re going to leave. Seriously. You may only leave mentally, but you’re going to leave. Most of you will leave physically. You’ll move on to another church which promises to push your “me” button. A church that has newer, cooler, or simply different programs than your previous church and you perceive better meets your needs and wants.
I’m not a cynic. I’ve seen this withdrawl when the “me” button isn’t pushed enough or in the right way when that the reason people attend church. This is real.
Here’s why I think it happens. We forget our priorities.
The list goes on. Our church community is important. Our being renewed is important. Our learning of God’s word is important. Worshiping in spirit and in truth is important. But it can’t be the period at the end of the sentence. They are important because of their ability to draw us closer to our creator, but also because of the mission that they prepare and equip us for. We should not listen to sermons only to decipher how we can apply teaching to our lives, but also so that we can understand God’s word more and expose others to that understanding. Like Philip and the Ethiopian, we should get to a point where we can use not only our own experiences but God’s Word to teach others. We should seek the renewal of corporate worship not just as a response to the wholly undeserved love of Christ, but also as a fuel source for our reaching out the world. It should not represent simply a relief from our daily grind. That is neither worship (which is God-focused) or spiritual renewal but simply relaxation. Relief from daily stress can be a consequence of worship, but it shouldn’t be the goal…that’s for another blog.
If you’re at church to get your “me” button pushed, then you’ll find it’s like a drug, and the more services your church provides you, then more you’ll want. And soon, you’ll be shopping for a new pew.
On the other hand, if you’re at church to ALSO get equipped, then you’ll find satisfaction, for there is hope in a mission. There is joy at victory. Our Father rejoices when the lost are found and when the dead are brought to life, and why would we hope to participate in that harvest party if we aren’t planting seeds? Are we being obedient if we’re not planting seeds? If we’re not obedient, do we really love God?
I’m incredibly thankful that I am part of a church that doesn’t lose sight of our world (locally and globally). Revolution‘s leadership is acutely aware of the pain people have now and the dire destiny that lays before them and is not content to insulate the church with “me” button blankets. Revolution prioritizes people and loving them so that through that and in that they see the love of Jesus and come to know Him. I am thankful that higher attendance numbers, while nice, are not as important as new relationships with Jesus. I am thankful that the measure of success is not simply the number of people tithing or faithfully serving on Sundays but the number of people acting faithfully to impact the world for the Kingdom.
There are “cool” elements about my church, and I think they’ll probably push your “me” button some. However, over time, you will find that the mission of Revolution is not to give you the best church experience you’ve ever had or make you feel warm and fuzzy. While, Revolution vigorously seeks excellence, it is only as a response to the core mission, which is to lead people into a revolutionary relationship with Jesus, which in turn is a response to our love of Christ and our gratefulness for what He has done in our lives. Excellence is another whole blog post…
If you are a Christian, and you go to church with me, I hope your reason for coming to church is not simply for you. If it is, I hope God moves in powerful ways to help you experience the urgency and brokenness and inadequacy I feel whenever I survey the world and compare it to my own hope in Jesus. If He does, then you will eagerly seek the equipping church can provide. If you don’t experience that, well, eventually, we may end up parting ways. I understand; I’ve been through it before.
If you do come to my church to be both renewed and equipped to serve obediently and out of your love of Christ, then I look forward to celebrating the returned sheep, the lost coin and the wayward son.