I struggle sometimes with the question of who church is for, and what church is for. What is the point of church?
Last weekend we visited friends. After a reasonable lunch in a pub converted from a railway station we walked around the village where they live and decided to have a look in the parish church. We were charged £3 each for the pleasure of entering the church as it was running a Christmas tree festival in which the trees on display had been decorated by various local commercial and non-commercial organisations. Refreshments were on offer including mulled wine. When my friend queried the entrance fee with the man on the door he was told: “That’s what it is all about.” The ‘all about’ bit being about raising funds for the church. Funny, I thought Christmas was all about God and Jesus, not about fundraising.
The point is that if church is not about God then there is no point to church at all. As I look around this Christmas I have to ask if church is more about us and what we think church should be about or look like, rather than being all about God and what He wants. I wonder what God thinks about our churches?
The pub in the station could be a good example of what might happen to a church that isn’t all about God. The trains still run through the station and some of them even stop. The strange thing is that at some point the station buildings ceased to provide the services they were designed to provide. Then along came someone with a vision and new life was breathed into the station building, which now functions as a very attractive public house with a tremendous welcoming atmosphere. This was evident in the number of people enjoying a drink and some good old fashioned British pub food. Railway memorabilia is everywhere as a reminder that this building was once full of life in a different way with the comings and goings of the passengers it served.
Perhaps that’s where the problem lies with church: it has become a place populated by passengers who come and go and want to be served, rather than a group of people who serve and devote themselves to the things that matter to God?
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshipped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity – all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. (Acts 2: 42-47 NLT)