Sometimes we can have a pretty limited understanding of what church is. Most people view it in this context: Sunday mornings I go to a building and listen to the pastor talk about God. I call this place church. That is church, but church is also so much more. Believe it or not, having a building or a pastor are ideas people added to church life, but they aren’t what church is about. Now, don’t get me wrong those things are not bad. They are in fact helpful and good, but we can’t allow them to get in the way of a true understanding of what church is really meant to be. Here are some things I found in the book of Acts that will help us to develop a better picture of what being the church means.
1. Being the church means you meet regularly (Acts 2:46).
Whatever this looks like, whether it’s in someone’s home, at Starbucks, at the beach, you get together often. Why? We all need each other. We all need encouragement and support. We need to know that someone is in our corner, because following Jesus isn’t always a walk in the park. It can be hard, but it’s much easier when we help carry each other’s burdens.
I hear alot of people say that they don’t need church to have a relationship with God. I would say that even though some of my most powerful moments with the Lord have been in my times alone with Him, I know that for me it would be impossible to see real growth in my relationship with God in isolation. I need the perspective of other Christians. I need to be encouraged and motivated. Sometimes I just need a hug, when it seems like I try so hard and everything is falling apart. Without that, I think I would have given up a long time ago.
2. Being the church means that you eat together, pray together and learn together (Acts 2:42).
As the church, we should be continuously learning about who God is and who we are in Him….together! We should be sharing with others what we are learning in the Bible, what God is showing us and the lessons that He is teaching us.
We should be praying for each other and with each other. Our prayers should be strategic and focused. Where do you want to see God’s hand moving in your lives? Lift up each other’s personal needs and pray for your communities!
Eat together. Hang out. Get deep in your relationships. Build trust. These relationships are pivotal.
3. Being the church means taking the Great Commission seriously (Acts 8:38)
Like we talked about on Tuesday, being the church means that you go to other’s with the Gospel. As we strive to “be the church,” we shouldn’t be too inward focused. The desire of our heart’s should be to share the Gospel with as many people as possible and to show others the love of Christ.
4. Being the church isn’t about the building (Acts 20:20)
Church isn’t about the building. Over the years, the idea of church has become tied up in the location. The place that we meet became known as church. As a result of this, in our minds we drew a separation between what we do in church and outside of the church. At church, we should be on our best behavior. I’m sure you’ve heard people say things along the lines of I shouldn’t do this or that in church. The church is seen as holy ground and everything outside of the church is fair game.
This is totally wrong. You are the church. In fact, God tells us that we are His temple. The Holy Spirit dwells inside of you. Therefore, everywhere you go is holy ground. There is no where you can go to escape His presence.
5. Being the church means that we all play a part (Acts 13:1, 14:23)
Lastly, being the church means that we all play an important role. In the first church, there was no lead pastor. They talked about having prophets, teachers and leaders, but their wasn’t one person that was responsible for everything. Now, don’t get me wrong, having a lead pastor to cast vision and to bring together a team can be good and very beneficial. However, if we are not careful, we can lose sight of our own role in the body of Christ.
True relationship with Christ is not about living your Christian life vicariously through your pastor or leader. You can’t rely on one person to interpret the Bible for you. A pastor’s role is to encourage you and to support you as your personal relationship with Jesus unfolds. Each believer has the Holy Spirit dwelling within them. It is the Holy Spirit that leads us into the truth. Relying on one person’s interpretation or viewpoint, without ever seeking God for yourself, can be dangerous and result in a skewed view of God and who we are called to be in Him.
Additionally, as believers, we are all in ministry. Whether you work in the church or out in the world, you are called to share God’s love with others and to meet the needs you see in the people around you. Being the church is not about sitting on the side lines and enjoying a good sermon. It’s about getting involved and serving God with all the resources that He has put at your disposal.