Sometimes we need to be reminded – we’re a church! A quick glance around the current evangelical landscape would reveal a large portion of the contemporary church struggling with an identity crisis. They’ve forgotten who they are. Churches and church leaders don’t like to talk about it. But the truth is, we constantly struggle with who we are and what we’re supposed to be doing.
In their book, Mission Drift, Peter Greer and Chris Horst address The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities and Churches. It’s an excellent book and a wake up call reminding us of the importance of doing everything possible to stay true to our mission. I recommend every church leader and staff member get a copy.
So, how are we doing here at Crossroads staying true to our mission? We call ourselves a church, but in far too many instances, if we are completely honest, too often we can look and act more like a club. Let me hold up a mirror for a couple of moments and ask ourselves the question: what does our church resemble more – a CHURCH or a CLUB?
In a club, it’s usually “members only.” In a church, it’s supposed to be “anyone can come.”
In a club, membership is all about privileges, perks and position. In a church, membership is all about submitting to others, being willing to serve and put others first.
In a club, members pay dues and expect the benefits they’ve paid for. In a church, members give to God and trust Him (and those who represent Him) to use what’s given to meet the needs of others.
In a club, members expect to be served by others. In a church, members serve others, especially those who least expect it or deserve it.
A club exists exclusively for its members. The church exists primarily for those who aren’t even there yet.
A club often has reserved parking places and personal lockers for its members. A church shows no favoritism to anyone and even strives to make sure the best parking spaces, best seats, etc., are available for guests.
The main focus of a club is catering to the wants and wishes of its members. The main focus of the church is to honor God by reaching out to a lost and dying world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So how do we measure up?
In his book, Courageous Leadership, Bill Hybels says, “There is nothing like the local church when it’s working right. Its beauty is indescribable. Its power is breathtaking. Its potential is unlimited. It comforts the grieving and heals the broken in the context of community. It builds bridges to seekers and offers truth to the confused. It provides resources for those in need and opens its arms to the forgotten, the downtrodden, the disillusioned. It breaks the chains of addictions, frees the oppressed, and offers belonging to the marginalized of this world. Whatever the capacity for human suffering, the church has a greater capacity for healing and wholeness ... Still to this day, the potential of the local church is almost more than I can grasp. No other organization on earth is like the church. Nothing even comes close.”
There isn’t a club anywhere that can hold a candle to a local church who (a) REMEMBERS who they are supposed to be and is (b) DOING what they are supposed to be doing. But to do that takes WORK. It means constantly reminding one another this is JESUS’ church, and we have to do it HIS WAY. It means staying faithful to His WORD regardless of what the culture says or does. It means having to constantly reevaluate what the main thing is: reaching the lost no matter the cost, and restating it over and over again so no one forgets. It means recasting the vision and recommitting ourselves to the mission God has given us. It means being willing to do whatever it takes so people can know Jesus and grow in their relationship with Him. It means continually fighting the temptation to become another club catering to the comforts and conveniences of its members and instead, keeping our eyes focused on the “fields that are white unto harvest.”
It’s way too easy to slip into the comfort of becoming a club without a golf course, enjoying our Christian friends, attending our Christian activities and becoming completely isolated from the very people Jesus commanded us to reach.
Clubs are primarily attractive only to their members. Those who do venture in, find out in short order they aren’t wanted or welcome and leave. In contrast, the local church, when it’s functioning as God ordained her to be, attracts the attention of the world and people want to be a part of it.
So does Jesus.
(Matthew 16:18, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.”)
© 2014. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.