“MY” church

I recently have been reading through an excellent book that was recommended to me by a mentor of mine. The book is titled Who Stole my Church by Gordon MacDonald. The book is creatively written and tells of a Pastor’s venture to help a small church  be more open to change. The book identifies the church’s need to adapt their approach in worship and sharing the Gospel to the culture around them. One of the things that have stood out to me recently is the way that Christian culture has taken ownership of the church. I recently have felt convicted in talking about the church that I worship with as “my” church.

The Danger of the Possessive

I believe that the way we talk about the church and refer to the church has done a great disservice to what it means to be the body of Christ. First of all the break down in the word church. The church has ceased to be a body of believers and has instead been recognized as a place or building. Along side the loss of the correct definition for church, believers look at the local church as something that they have ownership over. I am not saying that every person who refers to the body they meet with as my church has some sort of agenda or is trying to steal the church but I believe we need to change the way we refer to and think about the church as a whole.

So what’s the big deal?

The first thing we need to do is know that the church we attend is not “ours.” When we refer to something with a possessive it means that we have some sort of ownership over it. Often times we think that because we have faithfully given, served and attended a local church that we have some right to ownership over it. This comes from thinking of the church as a building or as a service that is supposed to satisfy our wants and cater to our preferences. Pastor’s fall into this same line of thinking. They think that their commitment, hard work and role of leadership gives them ownership of the church they are pastoring.

If the church is not ours than whose is it?

“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which HE obtained with his own blood.” Acts 20:28

The church belongs to God which was obtained through the blood of Christ. We must never forget that the church is under the rule and leadership of Christ as the head. This verse talks about the role of overseers and the position of leadership that was granted to them through the Holy Spirit. As a Pastor my role is to make sure that we are faithfully serving and following Christ. Not pleasing the flock and leading them to their preferences but instead leading them out of their comforts and to the mission field. The scariest place you can be is at a church that doesn’t push you to get out of your comfort zone and take the gospel to the ends of the Earth.

Possession leads to Isolation

Another danger of thinking of the church in the possessive is it produces isolation. What I mean is whenever we start thinking of the local church we attend as “ours” or “mine” it naturally causes division from the rest of the body of Christ. The scripture describes the church based on its location. For example: The church at Ephesus, the church in Rome, etc. Not one time do the biblical writers refer to the church as “theirs” or “mine.” That right is referred to Christ. The church is the body of believers world wide. Bought by the blood of Christ and lead by the Holy Spirit. We get the opportunity to give to the church, serve in the church and share the gospel with the world. Trust the leadership of Christ as the chief shepherd of your church, trust the appointing of the pastor as the under shepherd, and pray that God would give you a clear understanding of His will for your life as a part of THE church.

P.S. I am not saying you shouldn’t refer to the place you worship as your church but that you should always be evaluating the way you see the church. Trying to describe the church and talk to other people about the church you attend would give you a headache if you didn’t use the possessive form. Believe me I have tried.

God bless, Pastor Caleb

How can “good news” be offensive?

The Gospel is known as the good news. Yet when presented to the world the reaction is often rage and disgust. How can the good news of redemption for all mankind be offensive.

  1. It identifies sickness:

Many people go an extended amount of time without knowing they are sick. Often times cancer can live in the body for years without ever being discovered. Some take finding out they have a problem as good news because it means they are going to be able to start the process of healing. Some deny it and become angry at Doctors, family and often times God. Part of the gospel (good news) is revealing that we are all sick. Their sickness is terminal and it is identified as sin. The scripture tells us “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) People do not like being told that they are wrong, I know that I don’t, but being called out for wrongdoing is an essential part of the gospel. People have to be made aware of their need for redemption.

2. The truth hurts:

Our church has been preaching through the book of Acts and during my study I always get overwhelmed by the story of Stephen. Stephen had been wrongly accused of saying “…Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place (temple) and change the customs that Moses gave to us.” Acts 6:13 What happens next is nothing short of incredible. Stephen stands up before an angry mob and preaches the truth of God’s word. The mob grew angry and stoned Stephen to death because of the truth. Truth comes from God and that makes people aware of their own wickedness. Most societies try to avoid truth at all costs, relativism in the modern age is evidence of that. Absolute truth points to exclusivism, meaning some people will be wrong. This really points back to the fall, inherit in our nature we want to be God, we want to be the makers of truth but God is the only one who creates truth. This leads people to be offended by the truth.

3. If there is “good news” there is also “bad news”:

The Gospel is the good news of redemption from eternal separation from the One True God. It comes from repentance of wrongdoing toward God and belief in Jesus Christ as the ransom for sin and the defeater of death. As easy as God made it for us to be redeemed by faith in His redemptive plan, there will be many who will not accept it. People are offended that the gospel preaches exclusivism. The gospel is good news to those who believe but it is bad news for those who don’t.

 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Cor. 1:18

What do we do?

Regardless of the outcome, we are tasked as the church to share the Gospel. We have been promised that we will be rejected but the gospel is the hope and the redemption of all mankind. Our task is to present the Gospel in its purest form, we do not need to be overly offensive because the Gospel is offensive enough.

Pastor Caleb Dunn, Calvary Baptist Church