A church loses its life and effectiveness at the point it stops being the church that God created her to be and starts going through the motions of doing church.

Read: Matthew 16—18 (3 Whole Chapters!! You can do it!!!!!!)

Ask Yourself & Journal:

•  After reading Matthew 16—18 describe the kind of Church that you think Jesus is building. What is the kind of Church against which the gates of hell cannot prevail?

Wow!  There’s so much in these three chapters about the type of church Jesus was building.  First of all, I know the word church means “gathering” or “assembly”.  I encourage you to try using one of those two words when talking about the church.  It has drawn me away from the mental image of a building to one of a community of people.  Now let me actually attempt to answer the question.  This may be long…. Jesus is building an assembly of people: who need no signs from God to believe in him, who guard the Truth of God and his scriptures, who reveal Truth not from themselves, but through their “Father who is in heaven,” who recognize the lies of the evil one and set their “mind on the things of God” and not the “things of man,” who deny themselves and live for others every day.  The assembly of believers will be like John the Baptist, pointing everyone to Jesus and then getting out of the way, who will live lives of faith, who are not bound by the authorities of earth, but still respect them as placed there by God, who reclaim the innocence they once had as children and walk in the wonders of God, who resist temptation and are careful to not cause temptation to their brothers and sisters, who will leave their community of people to search for those who are lost and bring them back to Jesus.  The assembly of God’s people will have confidence of who their God is and have no fear of asking for anything in his will, they will forgive without end, will extend his grace to all people and will be genuine in the grace they extend.

•  Do you ever feel like you’re just “doing church”? If so, why?

Working at a church, I can answer this with a definitive yes.  It’s something I and most people who work in “ministry” (a.k.a. take a paycheck home) always have at the forefront of our minds.  I’ve had a few friend I’ve had conversations with about what church is and I’m having more and more conversations who are tired of buildings, of the Sunday morning services, the formulaic order of service, the 5-point sermons, etc.  Now they aren’t talking about abandoning “Church,” but the social constructs we’ve created.  We must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but I’m seeing a generation of people who are willing to make radical changes to the way they gather, because ultimately we want to represent the reality of who Christ is to those who haven’t discovered him.  If it means throwing away our structures and starting over, I think a lot of us would jump on board.

•  What are you contributing to your church?

I kinda don’t like this question.  I think when most people read this they are going to think of the location, building, and activities their church “does.”  To be fair, I don’t think Christine Caine’s actually asking that.  Let me restate the question: What are you contributing to the gathering of people you have chosen to commit to, struggle with, be there for, and learn together and from each other all under the amazing and radical grace of Jesus?  Working at a church makes this difficult to answer.  Most of the things I do because it’s my job.  That doesn’t mean I don’t want to be doing them, but getting paid for it makes it feel like it doesn’t count.  Pastor David Saathoff likes to tell us that the church must always be teaching people to be arrows pointing outwards and not arrows pointing inward.  In other words, if we go to church just to serve the church, then we’re not actually being the church.  We’re merely being a self-supporting self-serving inclusive environment.  I’ll end this question with this.  The question I’ve been asking myself lately is this:  If I was to strip away all the activities or things I do with Bandera Road City Church and Communitas or any religiously affiliated organization would there be anything in my life that I or anyone else could look at and say that I was living as “the church”?

•   Do you think the church exists only to meet our needs?

No.  While our needs are met, in that in community with other believers we can grow in teachings, accountability, and find healing, the restoration that Jesus performs in our lives serves an important purpose.  It makes us better agents in the great invitation into God’s beautiful news.  He could have done it all on his own, but what a pleasure to be asked to be part of the work of Jesus, to be given the chance to tell his story and invite those around us into his assembly, family, gathering and community.  The church exists to point all of humanity to their Savior.

Listen & Pray:  JESUS, you did not create all of us with such creativity, diversity and unique gifts and talents to simply go through the motions of a religious, boring life. You never intended for me to be part of empty ritual, irrelevant teaching or a lack of creativity. Teach me to do my part in a Church that is dynamic, vibrant, life-giving—a place of hope, healing and destiny. Teach me to be The Church.