church, my personal Lord & Savior.

“It was NOT church that died on the cross for us. In fact, church is one of the very reasons Christ died on the cross. He died, as our bridegroom, that we, a broken and dirty bride might be made pure and clean – ready for His return…”

Have you accepted church as YOUR personal Lord & Savior? Has church entered your heart, and become the leader of your life? Have you allowed church to “take the wheel”, & be in the “driver’s seat?” Have you committed your life to church, and begun to share about your faith in church with your friends and family? I trust that you have invited those friends and family into a personal relationship with church so that it may transform their lives, allow them to play a part in the kingdom, and grant them eternal salvation in heaven.

(Before anyone gets upset, or defensive please know that my ABOVE use of the word “church” is directed at all different forms/models of church – mega, simple, house, attractional, incarnational, institutional, conventional, traditional, missional community, etc.)

I am attempting to illustrate how we worship our individual church, or “form” of church sometimes MORE than, or ABOVE Christ. It seems as if we have become “Dependent” upon those things rather than Jesus Christ. The above sounds, and IS heretical. However, we have not merely replaced the word “Jesus” with “church” in this blog post, but it is evedent in our actions – we are guilty of heresy in our practices. Why is Jesus not enough for us?

Be it mega-church or house church we all tend to fall into the trap of thinking it is one of those things that is the answer, and not Christ. We want to give people one of those things before Christ. We want them to find “community” and relationship in one of those things. We will talk about our “churches” sometimes with more excitement and enthusiasm than our Savior Jesus. how often do we offer church to people before we offer them Christ? Sure, our well-intentioned desire is that they might find Christ once they “join” a church or get involved there. I would submit that they need to know Jesus through YOU, and therefore become a PART of the body of Christ-the Church-as a result.

Here is a prime example of what I am referring to: I have a friend who has a pretty intense drug/addiction problem. After being “clean” for a while I learned that he had “re-lapsed”, and was not doing so well. We were riding in the car as he shared with me how he had been clean again for 3 days, started going to AA meetings again, and wanted to start going to church again (By this he meant he wanted to start attending a weekly service on Sunday mornings). I immediately asked him why he wanted to “go to church” again , and he replied, “because I want to get right with God, get close to Him”.

It hit me that we have substituted church for Jesus. At best we have made them synonymous when they are NOT. Church has become the default way to get close to God. Church has become the answer, and not Jesus. My friend is not in the wrong; he didn’t know any better. I was extremely excited for him, and his PURE desire to clean up, and “get right with God”. This is not an accusation towards him, but us, as the body of Christ. What picture have we painted for the world? Have we offered people church before Jesus? Why is that the default “solution” before Christ?

I became very convicted after the conversation with my friend. You see, I immediately began to think of the best place for him to go that would assist him in his pursuit. I named several options, one of which was one of the simple churches we had started. I am not at all saying it would be bad for him to go to one of those places. I am not even saying that he would not encounter God and be discipled in one of those places. However, why was that the solution I presented him…FIRST? Not to mention, why did I try to “pawn him off” to others when here he was sitting right in my lap practically begging to be discipled? We do not realize it is also OUR job to disciple others into a saving knowledge of Jesus-not primarily an institution or form of church. We, as the body of Christ get to evangelize others into the body. Once there, we get to disciple them as new members of that body. Yes, the body as a whole plays a part in that discipleship, but we, as the evangelizer/discipler play a huge part in that process. Bottom line: I need to disciple my friend. I need to give Him Jesus.

Whatever pursuit of BEING the Church you subscribe to I challenge you to subscribe to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior first and foremost. May that be what dictates our pursuit of BEING a part of the Body of Christ. I will be taking a personal challenge this week to make a mental note of every time I have a discussion about “church” in comparison to how many conversations I engage in about my Jesus. For it is not church that we place our faith in.

“It was NOT church that died on the cross for us. In fact, church is one of the very reasons Christ died on the cross. He died, as our bridegroom, that we, a broken and dirty bride might be made pure and clean – ready for His return. May we worship Him, and not the bride for whom He was murdered.”

20 thoughts on “church, my personal Lord & Savior.

  1. Aaron,

    While I see your point, that we must first offer the gospel, we can’t offer a gospel of individual Christianity, the gospel declares a Christ as savior for all who came to establish His kingdom and His church that will not be overcome. So when we’re offering people the gospel, it is not absent of a call to be a part of the people of God.

    The church in turn has the opportunity to extend Jesus to people and work towards their transformation as a community.

    Maybe I misunderstood.


    • Yes, I totally agree Logan. I did my best not to devalue the importance of the Body of Christ – His Church – and being a part of it in this post. I was attempting to point out how we tend to do things out of order. Church, and being a part of it comes AFTER a decision to follow Christ is made (a decision to BE DISCIPLED) The truth is, if we start with Christ then we will always get CHURCH. If we start with CHURCH we will NOT always get Christ. I was trying to point out that we have this out of order…please know that I am all about the Church BEING the Church, and EVERY believer playing their part in the body of Christ. The summary of the article is that we often-times place all of our eggs into the “church basket” as if that is what it’s all about, and what saves us instead of in Jesus-our true redeemer. I also tried to focus on the role of the individual believer in evangelizing and discipling others in partnership with the Church as a whole instead of thinking it’s the “church’s job”. Thanks for the input! It’s great, and will help balance out the post-thanks!

      • I think that’s really good. I think I come from an idealistic church perspective assuming and wanting the church to present Christ first as they ought to.

        Thanks for your voice.

  2. Wow.
    I am pretty much speechless.
    I don’t remember which of your blogs it was, but I remember what it spoke to me:
    “We don’t need the walls of a church to contain people so we can minister. We don’t need to rely on the church to provide for us and maintain our ministry. Our ministry is here. Our ministry is now. Outside of church and in the world. We are called to the lost, not to just hang out with the found.”

    And its led me to go back through some of my blogs on myspace and share what I’ve learned along the way:

    ♥ (speaking of Jesus) His faith made him likeable, not detestable. (from one of Max Lucado’s books)

    ♥God makes a good point – as always – in Isaiah 2:22

    “Stop putting your trust in mere humans. They are as frail as breath. How can they be of help to anyone?”

    This is a good check-your-source type of passage. If your life sucks, look at who you are serving.

    I think we have been too dependant on the church for many things, including, but not limited to, ushering the Spirit of God into our presence. This is something that we can do on our own, but it seems so much easier to leave it to someone else to do.

    Too often we “wait for the Spirit of God to fall” when we should be on our faces, begging Him to move in our lives, to reveal Himself to us.

  3. Wow, buddy. Great, great post. I was checking out a church here on Sunday (I’ve been doing it for a month, just to get a taste for the “spiritual climate” of the city I’m in), and their lead guy got up and welcomed the first time visitors and immediately started selling the church. Wow.

    Been there, done it. Not a good place to be. And I have to guard myself now as we’re watching a new church develop.

    Good stuff.

  4. Very true observations …

    When I was being expelled from my former “church” I was told that I would need to come back as quickly as possible so that I would have the privilege of prayer open to me again. I knew that was a lie from the evil one so I rightly rejected it – since then I have ran across some from this particular denomination that have accepted the lie. They are out of “church”, very damaged, and not believing that they don’t have the right to speak to their Heavenly Father!

    Being out of “church” a couple of us had made the obversation that if someone finds out you are “not connected anywhere”, they start the sales-pitch for their “church”.

    “You have a daughter? You should come to 1st Avenue because we have an excellent kidz church program. Right now we have a whole program with Spirit Bob FourSquarePants and Dora the Evangelist.”

    “You like music? You should come to Praise New City because we have contemporary-rock music not those old hymns. Just last week they played Evanescence and the Frey!”

    “You like to drink? You should come to New Wine – we have STARBUCKS!!”

    When the last time we you heard some give you this sales-pitch, “You should come assemble with us because we welcome the Lord Jesus Christ and he really is a part of our assembly!”

    I’m waiting … but Jesus isn’t good enough. He isn’t attractive enough. He isn’t exciting enough. What people want is PowerPoint slides, contemporary music, youth programs, singles night, healthy christian jogging group, and for the outdoors type, Kayaking for the Lord. (I’m not trying to funny with this last one — this exactly what someone tried to sell me about some Church, they were attending.) So when all these things, even “church” itself, becomes the focal point we have to call it, what it is – an IDOL.

    In the Jewish history – both Temples became Idols. Jeremiah prophecied against those who ran around crying “The Temple of the Lord”, “The Temple of the Lord” while their hearts were removed from the True Lord. Idols are destroyed. Those temples are now demolished – dust, rubble, dirt, and sand. It can happen again – and the whole church system will come crashing down. If that happens those who have worshipped the idol will find themselves in aan unfortunate position – the foundation is proved to be unstable. Those who worship God in Spirit and Truth will be in a far better position to weather the storm — their foundations is JESUS.

    More and more I’m growing restless with discussions of “church” – institutional versus house, demoninational versus non-denominational, contemporary versus classic. So much better to talk about Jesus.

    Peter cries – “WHO shall we go away to – you JESUS have the saying of everlasting life.”

    Too often this becomes a question not of “who” but of “where”. In fact my former demonination used this very scripture to cast doubt on anyone who would dare suggest worshipping outside of that religion.

    The question is not “where to worship” it is “who to worship”. We should be mindful of the Samaritan woman — when she asked, “Where should I worship?” Where did Jesus tell her?

    If you find yourself asking this question “where should I worship?” — then I would suggest follow Jesus and let the rest sort itself out. You’ll be where he is!

    • Wow. Anthony, such great stuff. Part of me wants to post your comment as it’s own new post on my blog! Hopefully people will get in on this “conversation” and read your comment. Thanks for the response, and I look forward to hearing from you more around here. =)

      • Lol — if you did decide to post this please fix my grammar and spelling. I need an editor most days.

        Serious though – was glad to come across your blog. My friends DHCOSBY reccommended this. … did not dissapoint.

    • Woah, I really like the points you made.

      Now that we realize the problem, lets figure out WHY the problem exists in the first place, then we figure out what we can do to change it (because change always starts with us first).

      My thoughts:
      Churches put such an emphasis on childcare and children’s church because a lot of people have children. And its really hard to focus on a message, on worship, on ANYTHING when you have a crying, screaming, bored, sleepy, hungry, or irritated child on your hands (and at times, a kiddo can be all at once).

      Songs – eeks. Personally, I want contemporary songs. Why? It’s something new, something fresh. I really believe that praise and worship is the igniting fluid for the message. You connect with God in praise and worship and when the word comes, you’re lit. I like the convinience of reading off the screen so I don’t have to waste time asking the person next to me what page we’re on and I don’t have to hold an old musty smelling hymnal. And I really don’t like to sing hymns all the time.

      As far as drinks and such, I could really care less. My current church offers coffee and donuts as a way to fellowship with others. Saying, “Hey, how are you?!” with a fake smile on your face while you’re thinking, “Eww – don’t touch all the donuts, I don’t know where your hands have been,” or “hurry up, I’m hungry and I want that last chocolate donut for my kiddo” really isn’t my idea of fellowship, although I’m always in a rush to get myself ready on Sundays and free breakfast is quite a perk.

      So, in short, we’re attracting the desires of the flesh instead of the desires of the spirit. No wonder people keep “backsliding.”

      I know that we can’t please everyone.

      So what do we do to draw people in without “marketing”?

      I know in Amarillo – which is where I’m originally from – there’s a church on 6th street – which is big for its Route 66 biker bars and such. Back in the day, Eddie Richardson was the preacher. There were a few members of the church who would walk up to bikers that they saw around and say, “Hey, how would you like to go to Eddie’s place with me?”

      Unaware that it was a church, the bikers would come. Some would leave, and some stayed and had their lives changed – and are still changed to this day.

      What is it about church that seems so daunting that we have to play it up and water it down with talk of all the things a church offers?

      I mean, the point of a church is ultimately to reach out to sinners, its not for the saints. Jesus didn’t come to save those who are already saved. We teach those who are saved and we reach out to those who aren’t.

      We’re supposed to be like Jesus and if Jesus overturned tables because people were selling things in the temple – in a sacred place, in a place of worship – then shouldn’t we take a hint from that?

      If Jesus were to walk into our churches and see us talking about Starbucks, songs, and how we’re different/better than the church down the street, how happy do you think he’d really be?

      So, how do we change it? I know that it will have to begin with a change on our parts, a change in our hearts – but what do we do to change that? And once there’s a change in our hearts, where do we go from there?

  5. I have had a similar conviction lately. Ever since God took me and my bride to be out of the traditional church I had almost become obsessed with simple/house church. It’s where God wants me but it’s not like a missing ingredient that fixes the Christian life. God had really been teaching me and others that I meet with about the centrality of Christ, and how every spiritual thing is in Him, not just Him and a lot of “other spiritual things”. We become so obsessed with things or forms of church or methods when all those things are in Christ and inseperable from Him. He must be first and center of ALL things, Jesus Christ is both the path and the method. Encouraging post

    • Amen. Encouraged to hear your heart, Quincy, and where the Lord has you guys! We need to hear more about those who ARE serving/choosing Christ over idols, and start setting a healthy example! Thanks for being just that!

  6. I agree with Anthony, Jesus is our God and we are His church. If we are seeking He will lead us. We just have to leave our precincieved ideas behind. He will teach us and He will be the head of His body, if we would allow Him to and trust Him more than ourselves.

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