Monday, July 30, 2012

Are we just playing church?

When my kids were small, they loved to play house. We would turn a card table, a blanket and camping lanterns into a a "playhouse". With the blanket draped over the card table, they would set housekeeping up inside. Pillows to sit on, plates and cups set up to eat from and camping lanterns lit inside as their lamps. The kids would even make drawings and tape them on the inside of the blanket as if they had art on their walls. This makeshift "house" fullfilled their imagination for hours.

Eventually my kids outgrew this game of playing house. Wouldn't we think it odd to see grown ups still playing "house"? But yet, we don't think it odd or think much of grown ups playing "church".
Whenever we place anything else, other than Jesus, as the most important thing in church life, we begin to play church.

Jesus is the most important thing in church, it is not the programs, it is not how many are in attendance, and it is not even about how much money is given in the offering. Jesus STARTED the church and He DIED for the church, however, He NEVER started a building fund!

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for taking care of the church. In fact, I think that we SHOULD take care of God's house. The carpet shouldn't be raggedy, the paint shouldn't be peeling and by all means God's house should be clean. After all, we wouldn't want our own house to falter in these things, so why would we permit the house of our Lord to fall and crumble?

Sometimes, we outgrow our space and it may be time to build or purchase something bigger, many churches have experienced this and resorted to starting building funds. I have contributed towards such funds in the past. Building funds are not bad, in fact, it can be good, especially to provide more space for new Christians coming into the fellowship. However, when the building funds, or building a bigger church becomes the main focus of each service, I have to ask myself if this is what God was talking about when He said He would "Build His church"?

MATTHEW 16:18 "...upon this rock I will build My church, and all the powers of hell will not prevail it."

Jesus did not die for buildings. The church is not a building. It is people, His people. When Jesus spoke to the Apostles about the church He founded, He said it was going to be built on the One thing that would outlast everything would be built upon Him!

Jesus is calling us, His church, to be ready for He is coming for His bride one day. Nobody knows the time or day of His coming, but we must be ready for His return. He is looking for a spotless church, not a clean building with perfect carpet, but He is looking for a church (His people) who have put Him first in everything.

When we begin to implement man made ideas in the church, we are literally ignoring God for what He founded the church upon...

"These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God." MATTHEW 16:18 (NLT)

Almost everyday I run into someone who is looking for authentic love, but they don't seem to be looking for it at church. This hurts my heart, and it makes me wonder if we have gotten too caught up in new programs and new buildings instead of reaching out to new converts.

Just as my kids outgrew playing house, it is my prayer that we will outgrow playing church as well and get back to the basics...the basics that His church was founded upon. Buildings are nice, but people are more important. May we be careful of what we are investing in.


June said...

Laurie, I love this blog on Church Playing. There is so much truth in it. I have belonged to a congregation where I saw so much focus put on the building fund, mind you we needed it to build a church, we did not have one, we had the people, but not the building, yet I am sure there were many who did not realize that "the people are the church". Then when living in another Province I attended a small community church with such a small but loving congregation who knew the real meaning of church and supported everyone who came through their doors - that is church to me.

Going back to "playing house idea", there might be another blog there for you, I think many so called grown ups are still playing house, as the true meaning of marriage and commitment had just slipped away, & it seems more expedient and easier to get separated or divorced rather than stay and work on that commitment. I know whereof I speak, we had 54 years of marriage, l year of separation at the 25 year (mid-life crisis I guess) mark, but because we both believed in the commitment we made, we got back together. Mind you it was not easy, but was doable, maybe in the marriage vows there should be a part where they say" in young age and old age" as well, as so many stray & start looking for someone younger at the mid-life crisis stage. This is just something I felt at reading your blog & thought you might like to expand on it. Statistically it seems about 50% of marriages end in divorce. I am fully aware that there are many circumstances where divorce has to happen unfortunately, but gosh wouldn't it be nice if the vows we make were really taken more seriously & the word "commitment" to mean something again. Sorry I am off on the wrong track in responding to your blog.

Denise said...

Amen, well said.