I grew up going to church practically every time the doors were opened. In fact, my dad was one of the holders of the church keys, so we were often the first ones there or the last ones to leave. I have many fond memories of that church building. It was there I heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was there I made my public profession of faith in Jesus as a child and was subsequently baptized by the pastor and my dad (a deacon) in a local pond on a church member’s farm. It was there I was asked to serve as the church pianist at age 15 because there was no one else to play. It was in that little building I committed to live the rest of my life with my husband at age 22.
Church. A place where a congregation of about 120 felt like a big extended family. A place where I learned about Jesus and His Word. A place around which our entire lives seemed to revolve. We didn’t belong to a country club or civic group. We had family and we had church. But is “church” merely a place to attend? Or is it more than that?
Recently, I had the opportunity to read The Jesus Paradigm by David Alan Black. In his book, Dr. Black challenges us to take a hard look at the way we “do church” and compare it with the example Jesus gives us in the Bible. The Gospels bear witness to the life of Jesus on earth while much of the rest of the New Testament prescribes how the church should function (not the building, but the people who make up the church). Specifically, as Christians, we are to follow Jesus’ example of submissive, surrendered love for God and sacrificial love for all people, including enemies. Being a Christian has less to do with attending church events and more to do with equipping and serving others for the sake of sharing Jesus with the world, both locally and globally.
An inspiring principle for me was: “If a person has been called by God to be a Christian, then he or she has also been called into the ministry. This is, in fact, how God fulfills his mission in the world. He calls every Christian to mission and the Christian, in turn fulfills that mission through their ministry” (The Jesus Paradigm, p. 72). Wow! This includes me! Every member of the Body of Christ has a vital role in building the kingdom of God! For the rest of my time on earth, I want to pursue Jesus and point others to Him. I want to help others find their part in the kingdom by connecting them with resources to be equipped for the work God has prepared in advance for them to do. I want to see the collective Body of Christ work together in unity, striving side by side for the sake of the gospel.
“God’s basic call is a call to mission. Our main purpose as the church is a redemptive one. We are called to pursue the Great Commission, to make disciples of the nations, to build Christ’s kingdom worldwide. What happens on Sunday morning is only the beginning of what it means to be Christ’s Body” (The Jesus Paradigm, p. 140).
I’m done with “doing church,” and ready to “be the church.” Let’s be the kingdom-building, disciple-making Body of Christ bringing love and light to this dark world by the power of Jesus and for the sake of His name! If this resonates with you, I encourage you to read Dr. Black’s book, The Jesus Paradigm. If you need a copy, please let me know!