Several years ago, I wrote an article with this same title, but as I was just thinking about that, I realized that we still say one thing when we really mean another. I share just a couple of those things we say for your consideration.
“Going to Church”
This is one of the sayings made most often, yet it is one of the most improperly conveyed statements because we do not, in fact, “go to church.”The church gathers at a meeting place, but that place is not the church. The people — the saved by grace, born again, baptized believers — are the church. Think with me for a moment about the Old Testament tabernacle. It was not the body of Israel, instead it was referred to as the tent of meeting. Local churches gather to worship at a place of meeting.
In the same aspect, we will often drive by a house of worship and say something like, “My that is a beautiful church.” Yet that beautiful edifice made of wood, brick and mortar was not bought by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. But the church, that body of believers that meet there to worship God, was bought with that unimaginable price!
“I Got Nothing from Church Today”
This is another statement that doesn’t truly reflect what one means. Is the individual saying, “The music did nothing for me.” Is that person saying, “The pastor’s sermon left me empty?” Or is the intent to express, “No one spoke to me this morning?”
My friends, we ought to love being with God’s people as we gather to worship the God of Creation and Salvation. We should love the fellowship of believers, and we should want to be inspired by the components of worship — praise and preaching. But the truth is we gather to worship to give rather than to get. We meet from time to time to give God our hearts of gratitude for what He has already done for us through the death, burial and resurrection of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ.
We should not gather in a place of worship to leave with a warm, fuzzy feeling. Instead, we should say, “It was good to be in the house of the Lord where we assembled to sing, pray, give and praise Him for all that He has done.” I dare say that when believers give to the Lord their praise with heartfelt worship, they will be able to depart, knowing that, indeed, they got something from church that day.
“We’ve Never Done Things That Way”
I will be the first to admit that I sometimes look at how things are with our churches today compared to 50 or 60 years ago and wonder how so many changes have come about. The truth is that every local congregation has done things differently from before through the centuries since Jesus founded His church, His gathering, during His personal ministry.
Churches in the USA don’t do things like those in Bolivia, Scotland or Ghana, West Africa. Truthfully, all don’t do things like they did in their own congregations 100 years ago. Our ancestors in this country worshiped in buildings of rough-hewn lumber, sat on hard wooden benches with no backs and sang either acapella or accompanied by a pump organ. Pianos were a no-no in houses of worship because they were instruments used in dance halls and other “less than desirable places.” When baptism time came, it was done in an outside body of water and candidates usually had to wait for summer. Those early worshipers would gladly have welcomed padded seats, carpeted floors, electric lights and indoor baptisteries.
The fact is that, with time, the way things are done changes. Some change is not good, but most is an improvement from what was done previously. Circuit riding preachers on horseback have been replaced by full-time pastors living in homes or parsonages. The inability to reach people with the gospel face-to-face has been overridden by the ability for people to hear and see gospel presentations either by television, computer or by the handheld device called the iPhone. Maybe you haven’t thought about this before, but large print Bibles are a great improvement for us older believers, and they haven’t been around all that long. All these are aspects of the Lord’s church getting past saying, “We’ve never done things that way.”
Well, those are just a few of the things we say about which I was just thinking.