I’ve stopped going to church
For too long now church has been identified with a building and event, or a service. When people talk about church it is in the context of; “I’m going to church”. With that, church has meant waking up on Sunday morning, rousing the family to get ready, piling into the station wagon, and driving to a building where people gather together to sing songs, pray, receive a seeker sensitive teaching, give money, and then go back to their lives at home and work and etc. This is a huge misconception and mission drift from Jesus real intentions for the church. It also has me personally, on two missions: First, to stop “going” to church and rather, to live, breathe, and be the church. Second, to ensure that Home Grown Church is on the same mission.
Jesus said; “Upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). The rock is a person. The person’s name is Peter. Peter was an Apostle called by Jesus to be transformed into a fisher of men and then, to plant the church. The church would be built through the relationship Peter had with Jesus, through Peter’s life transformed by Jesus, through Jesus lived out in Peter’s story, and then through more relationships Peter would have as well as the other Apostles. That’s how the church would begin: With a Jesus movement (discipleship) in people. As those people’s numbers grew, they had a need to gather together to share their transformed lives with each other and as they did so, a group of people gathered together in Jesus name became known as a church. Really, it should be the same today. And when the church of people come together it can be in a field, a park, the town square, a bar, a bowling alley, a home, a coffee shop, a community garden, or anywhere. Wherever Jesus people are, the church is gathering. Jesus people are the church.
I’ll see if I can unpack my thoughts a little further here…. The church we often see, that building down the road we call church, is often built with great intentions and good reasons yet, also for the wrong reasons. Please hear this: Jesus never required a building and a budget to build a church, he just needed people. The church was never intended to be a building, a system, a denomination, a doctrine, or anything else in the like. What the church was intended to be is people who are following Jesus. The people are the church. In the early days following Jesus ascension to heaven, the church did not begin with buildings, programs, and events. It began after people’s lives were changed by Jesus, by Jesus moving in people’s lives. The “church” is the result of Jesus followers needing to come together to live as Christ intended. To share in life and live in community. I believe Jesus disciples did not spend time on “building a church building”. They just shared the life changing story through their own story, and taught people about following Jesus. They lived what Jesus lived and breathed, which is discipling people in community with each other. He taught real relationships and real life sharing. “Church” began as people’s lives were changed and gathered to share in that together.
I’ve fought against it in my soul for some time for all my years of ministry training argued with it, but nonetheless: I’ve finally stopped going to church. In so many words, Kyle Idleman says that the church today is nothing more than a stadium event. People gather together to waive their Jesus flags, root for the home team, and then return home back to their lives (Not A Fan, by Kyle Idleman). Yeah, that is in your face and tough to read and many will not like it. However, there is truth in it. Church was meant to be a part of our lives every single day and not something we add to our schedule and check off our spiritual to-do-list. Church was meant to be something the believers lived out every single day. Church was meant to be spread all over a zip code. And if there is a gathering of the church for worship… well, it’s merely a half time speech and NOT the main course of the church.
Want to check out what we are trying to build? We have a web page up and a new missional community started. The webpage address is www.homegrownchurch.org. We’re on a mission to establish an expression of the church today in 2018 that is much more like the church we read of in the Book of Acts which occurred 2000-ish years ago.
Bottom line… I’ve stopped going to church so that I can live the church.