No, that is not a typo. I mean every word of it. And, yes, I am still a preacher.
There are some mind-sets that we have simply because they are repeated over and over and are never questioned. I like chili, and I love chocolate, but I am not about to mix the two. I have never tried them together before, but I have a long-standing, unchallenged belief that it would be disgusting.
Going to church is a lot like chili and chocolate–not because it is undoubtedly horrible, but because it is a mind-set that we have held unquestioningly. We operate on it all the time…”when I get to church;” “after church;” “on the way to church;” “I’m going to church.” And, I am guilty, as well. I say these things all the time. The problem is that too often we believe them.
God has made it clear that the church is not a place we Christians go or something that we do at such and such a place for at such and such a time. The church is who we are. In Acts 5:11 we are told that “great fear came upon the whole church.” Wouldn’t that sound funny if we applied our “go to church” mind-set? “Great fear came upon the whole building.” In Acts 8:1, there arose a “great persecution against the worship service.” In Acts 14:23, Paul and his companions “appointed elders for them in every 9:30-11:30am meeting time.”
The more scriptures you try it out on, the more the idea of “going to church” seems ridiculous. In Acts 14:27 the church was gathered together…for church? In Acts 15:4, when Paul and Barnabas came to Jerusalem they were welcomed by the church…which just so happened to be going on at that time? In Acts 18:22, Paul landed in Caesarea and greeted the church…building?
Well, this is more fun than I thought, but I will stop. Maybe you can look up a few verses with the word “church” and try it yourself.
Now I am not saying you are a horrible person if you claim to “go to church.” But, I am saying this…
Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
We, as Christians, do not “go to church.” We are the church, and we meet together regularly to examine one another, correct one another, and ecourage one another to be the church. We are not commanded in Hebrews 10 to “go to church.” We are exhorted to “be the church,” full of “love and good works.”
Now, don’t misunderstand what I am saying. I am not saying you do not have to “go to church” whenever the church meets. I am saying that if you are a Christian then church is every day. You are called to be righteous and pure every day. You are called to glorify God every day. And you need to meet regularly (preferably every day; see Acts 2:42f) with other Christians so that you can be corrected, helped, motivated, and encouraged to be the church every day.
Let’s stop going to church and start being the church.