What is the church?
When answering this question, we must overcome a lot of baggage. We have to overcome the desire to relay what we we’ve heard or even seen and get back to what its intention was. When someone says the word, church, we automatically think of a building. Everyday as I get off Interstate 35, I see a sign that warns oncoming traffic that they are about to come upon a church. Immediately after the sign is the church building.
Our culture has taught us that church is a building. But even those who don’t profess faith in Jesus know that the building holds the church, and it isn’t merely a location. Especially our church, which turns a basketball court and bleachers into an incredible worship center.
So we get that it it’s not a building. Jesus compared the church, those that make up Christians, as his body. In other words that the church could not be separated from Jesus. This is really good to know, because the church has done some stuff in the name of Jesus that not many of us are proud of. Yet, Jesus won’t disconnect himself from the church like a man can’t disconnect from the neck down. But in the same way, when the church responds to the love of Jesus in the right way and starts to love the city as Jesus loved the city, then he Jesus gets the credit and we live out our purpose.
Within the local expression of the church, the local gathering of believers is how Jesus sought to care for his people. He wanted them to belong to one another. He wanted them to submit to one another. He wanted them to forgive one another as Christ forgave them. In this way, the church acts as an extended family.
Now in my family of three, we have Baby Austin, He is one of the sweetest little boys in the world. He is my son. He is family. Not based on anything he has done. Not based on anything he can offer, but rather based on the fact that he is family. There are some days where Austin makes a huge mess as his diapers overflow or his digestive system doesn’t work properly. Adrienne and I have to clean up after him and hold our breath a lot. But that doesn’t make him any less family. We don’t wait until he has something to contribute or until he brings some sort of ability to the table before we give him our name. Nope, right from birth, he gets a name, social security number, and a place in our family. That’s what happens at the Plekenpol household, and households all across America, babies become family immediately and we make room for them.
The same applies to those who just recently became born again. We make room for them. Last year we saw 33 people get baptized out of a church of approximately 275 adults. What that means is that roughly 12% of the church are supposed to be messy Christians. Take into account that we baptized 16 in the year previous, we start to see we have a lot of babies in the family. Even though we must clean up after their messes, new Christians are just as much family as anyone else. That’s why we love new Christians. That’s why we correct and admonish new Christians when they are in error and we teach them to walk in the way of Jesus.
Too many of us have experienced the carnage of those who are impatient with babies. Instead of teaching them to use the toilet, we discard the kid because they are too much work and aren’t acting like family. But nobody would do that with their own child.
We make room for and care for those who are new to the family and give them extra attention so that they don’t hurt themselves or others and so they know what it means to be a Christian.
The next series, “What is the Church?” will answer the questions of what does it mean to be a member or an elder? It will answer the question of what our mission is and how we plan on accomplishing it.