Some say a church is a house of worship and praise. A physical place–usually a building with walls and roof and foundation and maybe stained glass windows, a steeple, with pews inside and an altar. Others may say a church is a body of like-minded people who share common spiritual or religious beliefs and customs and culture under a common God.
For Jesus, the church was any place or location where all were invited to listen and share and be in communion with others and each other and him. The church was more about the people though, and the communion than the place or location. It was more about the works of the people in praise and worship and discipleship than their surroundings.
The church was the workings of God through His creations. The church was the gathering of people to do God’s work. Whether this gathering was in a synagogue or a temple or a church building or a gathering upon a mountain or hillside or in a garden, it was the people that made the church.
Is this the church of today? Are these the conditions Christians or people of faith find themselves in? Sometimes I wonder. Sometimes I worry that a church is more about political lobbying and policy pushing from the pulpit. Sometimes I worry that the church has become more about perpetuating a culture war between conservatives and liberals or Christians and the LGBT community than about meaningful praise and worship and prayer.
Sometimes I worry that the church has become out of touch with the needs of the communities around them. I worry that the church becomes too insular and too closed up or too rigidly bound upon itself. Do churches still do outreach? Are there still charitable missions and acts of humanitarian generosity for those in need? Or has the church become simply a place to visit on Sundays only for the practice of rituals that have become hollow and meaningless?
Then I consider my church and my role in it. I consider what I do to c0ntribute to the health and well-being of the church. I consider that I am the instrument of change I wish to see in the church. I consider that I can do charitable works and serve God’s will through my means and skills and talents– and whatever God graced me with. And I can invite others to join me.
The church is a body of unique individuals– each gifted with unique skills and talents according to their callings. But if the focus of a church isn’t on doing God’s will or praise, prayer, worship, and living Christ-like lives if you claim to be Christian, then perhaps it is not really a church? If the church has become judgmental and condemning and insular and rigid, perhaps it needs to re-evaluate and go back to the Gospels and Scriptures to find the path again?