I Quit Going to Church

Dear Church,   The emphasis in this blog I’ve titled “I Quit Going to Church” is on the word “going.” Too often people treat church as a place they “go” occasionally in order to participate in religious ceremonies or activities. That could not be a more misguided notion of what “church” is! “Church” is not a place; it’s a people! It’s those of us who have placed our faith and trust in Christ. We are Christ’s church! Therefore, church is not a place we go; it’s who we are! It’s not an establishment we frequent (or in-frequent – as the case may be) to participate in religious stuff; it’s our identity as followers of Jesus! We are the church – those the Scriptures call “the bride of Christ,” “the body of Christ,” “living stones being built into a spiritual house,” “co-heirs with Christ,” “children of God,” “a royal priesthood,” “a holy nation,” “the saints of God,” “Christ’s ambassadors,” etc.   Sure, part of what we do as “the church” is gather. We gather to worship and to participate in each other’s lives. That’s an essential practice based on who we are (hopefully that’s a regular habit in your life!), but it’s not the sum total of our identity – not at all! We are Christ’s church whether we are gathered or scattered, and, since we’re scattered way more than we’re gathered, it matters who we understand ourselves to be when we’re not together.   Here’s a question to consider: If you are the primary exposure someone in your circle of relationships has to “the Church,” what kind of impression are they getting? Are you giving them a picture of Christ’s church that’s authentic, loving, compassionate, gracious, generous, hopeful, joyful, peace-loving, etc.?   As I pose that question to you I also cry out to God on my own behalf, “Please forgive me for the times/ways I don’t live into and live out my identity in you. And please help me, by your grace, to be the church as you intend!”   I’m so very thankful for our high calling and our identity in Christ. May he empower us to “quit going” and start “being” his Church!   May it be so,   Joel