The Meaning of Church

Originally published on my private blog on October 24, 2014:

While this blog allows me a place to chronicle my journey in teaching and leadership, it is also a place to write out other issues that come through my life. We are not isolated compartments but whole beings. While the struggles I face in one area might have nothing to do with teaching, they affect me which in turn affects how I respond to situations and perhaps to teaching issues that arise.
Struggling with church issues has been an off and on, up and down issue throughout my entire life. Having not grown up in one specific church, my childhood memories of church consist of sitting uncomfortably in a church where I didn’t understand the language. As well as memories of the English “church” service that the missionaries held on Sunday nights, where different men would take turns speaking or a tape of a sermon would be played. For the years I lived in the US, I was part of a local church, attending youth group and Sunday School, and even being part of the choir. Church in Kenya was listening to sermons in 2 languages, which often caused a lack of paying attention, since the train of thought kept getting stopped to interpret. Again missionaries met for an English service, which I found a time of hanging out with my friends and the boy I liked.
In college church was required, which didn’t make for a lasting bond. Often I had no choice in what church to go to, as I didn’t have a car and there was a church in walking distance. If I couldn’t get a ride elsewhere, I had to trek to the church in walking distance. There wasn’t a strong tie to the church as so many that attended were part of the college. During my senior year I was able to attend the church of my choice as I had a regular ride there. Once graduated and living in the same area with my own car, I was able to be part of this church. And making friends and getting involved there was beginning to happen for me as a young adult. But then I moved out of state. And discovered that finding a church as part of a couple was no easy matter.
Jono and I struggled with finding a church in Michigan. My past issues with churches reared their ugly head from time to time and I would withdraw from church to lick my wounds. Eventually we found a church and have now been there for 9 years. But no church is perfect and sometimes issues will arise. Lately we have been struggling with concerns at our church. Others have actually left the church – long-time members. This is concerning. Yet for now we have chosen to stay. We are hoping to be a positive influence for change. Yet the struggle is real and the discouragement hits often. How long will this take? Are we really making a difference?
I want to look at what the Bible says is the purpose for church. What is a church supposed to be accomplishing? Is our church doing this? If not, what needs to change or happen for it to be fulfilling the God-given mandate? If it is accomplishing its purpose, why the apathy and malaise?
I believe church is a body of believers who are Christ’s disciples, growing in likeness to Him and producing more disciples as commanded in Matthew 28. Using our gifts to edify each other and be effective disciples of Christ – this is what I see in the Bible. What does that look like in practical terms? These are questions I am looking at.

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