Sometimes we need to be reminded — WE’RE A CHURCH! A quick glance around the current evangelical landscape reveals a large portion of today’s church is 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.
We call ourselves a church, but in too many instances unfortunately, if we were honest, we often look and act more like a club.
Let me hold up a mirror for a few moments and let’s 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 “everyone.”
In a club, membership is all about privileges, perks and position. In a church, membership is all about responsibilities like giving, sacrificing and submitting to others.
In a club, members pay dues and expect the benefits they’ve paid for. In a church, members give to God and pray He will use what’s given to meet the needs of others.
In a club, members expect to be served by others. In a church, members should be serving everyone else, especially those who least expect 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?
The main focus of the church is to honor God by reaching out to a lost world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In his excellent 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,
(b) Does what they are supposed to be doing.
To do that takes work. It means constantly reminding each other WE’RE A CHURCH! It means constantly reevaluating 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 continually fighting the temptations to become a club that caters to the comforts and conveniences of its members and instead, keeping our eyes focused on the “fields that are white unto harvest.”
It’s incredibly easy to slip into the comfort of becoming a club, enjoying our Christian friends and becoming sanctified cliques who unintentionally exclude the very people we are praying to reach.
A final thought: 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!
© 2017. 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.