Once we understand what church is, we realize that we cannot go to church. Others in the world have come to understand this as well, and have started telling Christians to “Stop going to church…instead be the church.” Though shocking to some, it is right on target for how we need to be thinking. We cannot “get credit” for church by showing up in some building for an hour on Sunday morning, singing a few songs, smiling a few smiles, and listening to a sermon. That’s not “church.”
If, as we suggested yesterday, church is something you are, then it is something that you are part of all the time. Just as you are part of the human race everywhere you go, so also, you are part of the church everywhere you go.
So the question isn’t “Where do you attend church” or “What do you do in your church service” but instead, “As a part of the church, what can you be doing to strengthen it?” or “What does church do?”
The Biblical answer to this is simple. As the church, our task is to make disciples.
And there are few “church guidelines” on how to do this. We have several examples of what various believers did in the first century do make disciples. They met together, prayed, ate meals, learned the teaching of the apostles, and served one another. Also, it seems that a big part of their disciple-making process was telling others about Jesus.
In history, we have many more examples of what other believers did to make disciples. Some of them worked for a time, but then became alarmingly ineffective. our modern day “church service” is a great example of this. At one point in history, it was a great way to reach the community for Jesus and teach and train these new believers about Jesus. It was where people came to serve and be served, hence the name “church service.” But this method doesn’t seem to work any more for most people. So why hang on to it?
What is the church supposed to do? Make disciples. So let us stop trying to figure out how to do church and instead figure out how to make disciples.
In our day, we need to reexamine the ways we try to make disciples and if they are not working, ask ourselves:
- What will work?
- How can we best make disciples?
- Are meetings necessary?
- If so, when/where should we meet, and what should we do when we meet?
- How can we get believers to know what God wants them to know and do what God wants them to do so we can be the church in our community?
- How can we best tell people about Jesus?”
The answers to these questions will be different for different groups of believers living in different cities. But they are questions that every group of believers must ask if they are going to effectively make disciples.