There recently was a local ministry that wanted to know my thoughts on rethinking what "church" is. Chewing on that question stirred my heart up a bit, and I thought I should share my answer to that question with you as well.
How would you re-think "church"?
How would I re-think church? The short version of my answer would be this: if we truly want to live like Jesus lives and love like Jesus loves, then we need to CONSTANTLY be re-thinking what "church" looks like.
Now, for the long version :)
I'd start by saying that "church" is not some Sunday-morning get-together that involves 3.4 worship songs, a bad cup of coffee, twenty minutes of preaching, and a lot of hellos from people that you only see that one day a week.
As the body of Christ, we are referred to by Jesus as “the Church,” and that “the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” If we measure the biggest, brightest, best example of what most of society thinks "church" is to the gates of hell, it would absolutely crumble. So, obviously, the “church” in question has to be bigger than any man-made community. Then what is it?
Acts 4 defines the church as “those that believed” in Jesus. And it says in verse 32 that those who believed “were of one heart and soul”, which means that they technically were all aiming at the same goal. The church isn’t about the success of a group of people, a fine-tuned ministry schedule, or a building with an ever-growing acreage footprint. The church is about JESUS.
So how does that translate to today?
The Church needs to love on the people in our neighborhood and community – the people that God has specifically put in our line of fire to serve, care for, and spread His story. It’s gonna look different for every church and every city, because every PERSON is different. But Jesus is the common-denominator – He's the rescue for every person, no matter what the geographic location, financial demographic, or family situation.
As the Church, we need to tailor each gathering (what we would call a “church service”) to meet the needs of our specific group of people. If that means meeting different times of the week, great. If that means different music and message style, great. If that means different buildings, programs, and specific ministries, great. It simply all boils down to JESUS. We are to love others as HE LOVES US – unrestrained, passionately, and without fail. We are to love HIM that way, reflecting light into the lives of those that God has put us in front of.
If we're willing to settle into NOT re-thinking what church is, then we're sunk. "Church" is supposed to look different in every community -- there is NO fail-safe program that can works for every ministry in every location. Why? Again, it's because every person is different. So if we're not willing to ask God what it's supposed to look like, then we're already fighting a losing battle.
In closing, I find it interesting that Jesus never ministered the same way twice to people. He always performed miracles in a different manner, preached in different places, and ministered to the people right in front of Him the way THEY needed to be ministered to. He didn't invent a formula that worked for Martha and then applied that same formula to Zaccheus, Peter, and Lazerus. Everyone was different, and His approach to everyone was different. But HIS LOVE was the same.
And THAT, to me, is church - all paths of life boiling down to one focus; Jesus.