By Kevin Sheldon, Bethel Seminary St. Paul
I do not know about you, but one of the issues I see the church having is that too many people are looking for churches to entertain them. We all know a person in our congregation who shows up every Sunday with her Caribou coffee and fifty dollar specialty Bible in hand, ready to listen to her favorite pastor preach a sermon that will better her personal walk with Jesus. Not only on an individual scale, but for the past couple of years, many churches have switched to contemporary worship and attempted various other stunts to increase their numbers and turn the church experience into a “cool” and “hip” hangout. Part of this could come from seeing examples, such as Willow Creek in Chicago or NorthPoint in Atlanta, and desiring to be just like them in building size, number of people who attend, and all the ministries and services both churches offer. Too many congregations focus inward, so I feel that we need to begin shifting our focus outward and redefining what the function of the church should be.
If we are going to be honest, most of us only spend, on average, about two or three hours in a church building. This is probably for Sunday services and maybe one other activity on a weeknight. The rest of the time, however, is spent out in the world working a job that could range from sweeping the halls of a school as a janitor to being the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Regardless of what job one does, work can be exhausting. It makes sense why so many people feel they need church to re-energize themselves in order to survive another week of work. The problem is that this approach is inward focused, and it is counter to one of the great commands that Jesus gives us as Christians. After His resurrection and before He ascended into heaven, Jesus told His disciples “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NLT).
What the church should be doing is equipping the congregation to be disciples in their vocations. I am not saying turn everyone into street preachers, but rather teach people to work with purpose and live Christ-like. People need to see that what they do is all part of God’s plan for creation. Because the reality is that God created humans to reflect His image and to be a blessing for others. It does us no good keeping all of our skills and knowledge to ourselves. Therefore, we need to view the church as a place to expand our gaze outside walled boundaries. Our workplaces will then celebrate as a result of Christians living out their various callings with passion and purpose.
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