I have seen lot about it being back-to-school time lately, even back-to-football time (which I have been looking forward to), but back-to-church Sunday was a new one on me.
Today, I am enjoying my Sunday by taking in one gorgeous, beautiful, warm, sunny early fall day. Part of my Sabbath expression is writing a couple of pieces about living out the life of Christ. Later, I will probably go for a walk with my wife and crazy little beagle named Lulu. Sometime today I will make about three calls to check on the rest of the family, scattered around the country. Tonight, we will likely have a good dinner and watch a favorite television program, read and go to bed refreshed from having a chill day. Now, that’s a Sabbath!
For much of my life, on Sundays, I was up at 5:30, reviewing a sermon, getting ready, setting up equipment, cleaning up again, reviewing the sermon again, trying to keep my dedicated crew encouraged, welcoming people, hoping that everything went okay during the service, preaching with winsome enthusiasm, though my energy level was already waning, greeting everyone again and talking at length with whoever wanted to, putting away equipment in storage and in the trailer, evaluating the service with the team, being sure the place was clean, being the last one to leave after being the first to arrive, going home, trying to stay awake through lunch, and finally, crashing.
I like the way I am being the church now, better than the way I was going to church then. It is definitely more Sabbath-like.
These days, talk of going to church, attending church, and joining the church sounds a little funny to me.
What if the church were not an organization, didn’t have any buildings, professional leadership, or formalized programs? Would it be awful or refreshing? Would it be the death of the church or revival, or some of each? Could we be the church without the cultural trappings? Could we be the church if we stripped it down to its humble beginnings when it was the most powerful?
It is possible to love Jesus and his church without being intertwined in the system or the institution.?As a matter of fact, more and more people are trying to be the church just that way.
Let me offer a few suggestions. How about not vilifying brothers and sisters? If someone loves their institutional expression of church, so be it. If someone does not resonate with the idea of going to church and attending services and programs, so be it. How about exploring and lending credibility to new ways of expressing faith, community, and mission?
How about being the church, no matter if you attend an institutional church or not? In other words, let’s emphasize reflecting Jesus to those who are outside of the fold. That’s where his heart seemed to be.
Originally posted September 1, 2010.