Why does the Church exist? It’s not to get people together for meetings. Or to keep our theology pure. Or to defend our traditions. Or to look cool and appealing to the unchurched. But it’s so easy to fall into one or more of those traps if we are not constantly reminding ourselves what we actually do exist for.
As defined clearly by Jesus Himself in both the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, the Church exists to love God and share His love with others. We’re not about meetings, denominations or creeds – although all of those have had and will continue to have a place. We’re about relationships. It is our calling and our mandate to introduce people to Jesus, connect those people with each other, then prepare them to help others meet Jesus too.
Through the command to make disciples, Jesus created a self-perpetuating system to keep the Church alive, vibrant and adaptable. For over 2,000 years now the Church Jesus started and promised to build has been the most relentlessly growing, most adaptable, most life-changing, most liberating organism in the history of the world. Despite all the cries of alarm and concern, the Church Jesus is building is not in trouble. It’s not dying. Its best days are not behind us. The Church is alive and well, with far greater days ahead than any we’ve seen come and go so far. But the formats we’re currently using to accomplish those ends? Those are in trouble – big trouble.
The way we format and structure the Church experience, the expectations we have of people when they gather as the Church, the top-down hierarchical structures that are so commonplace we barely see them any more – those are going, going and soon will be gone. And that’s okay because we’re not supposed to be in the business of preserving those formats. In fact, the more we try to preserve the man-made institution we call ‘Church,’ the more we will take precious resources away from doing what we should be doing – that is (and always was) helping people find, love and serve Jesus and His mission.
We need to rediscover and re-commit ourselves to being the Church Jesus called us to be. Or, while we’re off chasing other ideas, someone else will offer a knock-off version that feels better than what we’re currently doing. Actually, that’s already happening. It’s been happening for a very, very long time as less and less people who identify as ‘Christian’ are involved in the Church Jesus birthed and is building. So the challenge to us all is to BE THE CHURCH, or move aside and make room for those who will.