Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Are You Frustrated With Church?

I think many people are frustrated with church for different reasons. I think the issues most people have with church can be broken down into different categories:
  • Issues with the building: too small, too large, too old, too expensive, not easily accessible  for your needs.
  • Issues with the programs:  issues with Sunday School, youth programming, seniors programming, prayer meeting, small groups. Not enough evangelistic outreach programs. Not enough outreach to the poor and needy. Not enough programs that connect and care for the people in the church.
  • Issues with the Sunday morning event: Sermon too long, too dry, too meaty, not enough Scripture, too boring. Music too loud, too fast, too slow, too repetitive, wrong style, or don't like to sing at all.
  • Issues with the teachings, doctrinal positions, and emphasis on certain viewpoints.
  • Issues with the organization: question organization structure, issues with decisions made, issues with organizational personnel choices.

However some of this frustration can disappear when we change our way of thinking about what church is, and what church isn't.

According to the New Testament:
  • Church is not a building.
  • Church is not an event.
  • Church is not about the programs. 
  • Church is not defined by a statement of faith, or core values.
  • Church is not a human managed organization.
When I look at the uses of the term church ekklesia  in the New Testament, I see two ways it can be used.

Church can simply mean the people, the body of believers, wherever and whenever. For example in Acts 8:1 persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem. We know there were over 3000 believers in Jerusalem, and they met in various places.  I believe the term church in this case is best translated as 'all believers' in Jerusalem.

Church can also mean an assembly or gathering of people.  The word ekklesia was used outside of Christianity in reference to different types of gatherings. It was used when referring to the assembly of men during the beginnings of democracy in ancient Athens.

So when I think of church as the people who follow Christ, and whenever they get together, the frustrations listed above fade away.   Those things are not what church is about.

People can be frustrating too... but that's a different story. :)



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13 comments:

Steve Martin said...

The Church is a lot like Noah's arc...if it wasn't for the storm outside...you wouldn't be able to stand the stench inside.

Jonathan said...

I think it would help if the church (the people) spent more time outside.

Steve Martin said...

We are in it. Life is the storm. I think it would help if people realized that we are ALL sinners and that are sh_ _ does stink. And that there is no perfect church.

But where else are you going to hear the Word and receive His Supper? The mall?

Jonathan said...

Steve Martin: When you use the term church, are you talking about the people? Or are you talking about church as an organization, building, or event? I am suggesting that is where some of the confusion comes from.

Steve Martin said...

The people and the organization. That's where the problems lie for us. In hanging out with other sinners, and expecting them to somehow be better than that.

Jonathan said...

I'm suggesting focusing on being the church outside of the organization - the way we see it in Scripture.

Steve Martin said...

Jon, the Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit gathers us.

When you some people together then you need some organization. As long as it all stays Christ focused and not organization focused, then it will work. We have a lot of experience of that to look upon. Not perfect...but there is no perfect church.

Jonathan said...

Steve Martin, I believe we should gather together with other believers as well. The example in Scripture is that they met in homes, and public spaces.

I can not find in Scripture the degree of organization we see today. All believers were members of Christ's one church. Local membership in an additional organization is not mentioned.

Steve Martin said...

I like this one, Jon:

http://www.lightofthemaster.net/apps/blog/a-60

It'll take under a minute to read it.

Jonathan said...

I agree that our faith requires a personal element, and a relational one. I am a big advocate for the 'one anothers' found in Scripture. However that doesn't mean I'm a fan of programs, events, special buildings, and top down organizational structures.

Frank said...

I too see the church as people but to find those people you have to "go to church". Then you have to deal with the institution and that is where I want to disconnect again. SO, I am not involved in a local assembly at this time. Though they talk about relationship they still cannot get away from everything revolving around the pastor and what he is saying or passionate about. Though they want people in community they focus entirely on the past week's sermon.

Frank said...

I too believe the church is the people. However, to find those people you have to "go to church." When I do that I have to deal with the institution and that is when I want to disconnect again.

Jonathan said...

Frank, Lately I have been looking for, and recognizing signs of church outside the institution. I see the church (the people) gathered in organized meetings. But I also am recognizing that the church (the people) gather together in many informal, less structured ways as well.