Have you ever felt like church just doesn't seem to matter? I mean, its cool and all. Its not like you are angry at the church or with anyone in particular. It just seems as though the only major thing that would change if you stopped going was how you spent your Sabbath morning which is quite often kind of, well, blah...
If you have ever felt that way, consider yourself totally non-weird. Many people, especially in today's generation, feel that way. In fact, many pastors feel that way as well. I personally have wrestled with these same feelings. I'm not a huge fan of "church". However, there is something weird about all this. Whenever I read about the church in the New Testament I get stoked. I especially love the book of Acts which chronicles the journey of the early church. But for some reason that sense of excitement hasn't always transferred into my local setting. Its almost as if there is a big difference between the church in Acts and the church in my city. One is pretty cool. The other is... blah?
But why do we feel this way? Is it because the Acts church was perfect? Not at all. They were messed up. In fact, the New Testament testifies to how messed up the early church was (one church even had a guy sleeping with his stepmother!). They certainly were far from perfect. Is it because the Acts church was trendier? No. There were no hipsters then. In fact, they didn't even have their own Snapchat.
And yet, when I read about the church in Acts one thing is too easy to miss. They lived and died for the kingdom of God. They impacted the world around them. They were a force to be reckoned with. If you left the church, it wasn't just your Sabbath morning that changed, it was your everyday life that changed. Church wasn't simply a tack on to the week - a religious ritual to adhere to. Church was a movement, a way of life, identity, purpose, and the force that was responsible for ushering in the kingdom of God.
Can we restore this? Can the modern church go back to its roots? Yes, and it begins with you and me. I want to challenge each of you to go against the current. I want to challenge you not just to be counter-cultural in this sinful world but to be counter-cultural in the church. Here are some steps you can take:
- Don't be discouraged. Yes, the church is quite often comfy and doesn't want to do much. Don't let that wear you out. Fight for change knowing that God is on your side.
- Don't complain. Do something! Leaving the church because its dead, or gripping about what is wrong with it wont do a thing. Instead of criticizing the church lead the church. Critics may have good points but they are all yap. Leaders on the other hand zip their lips and get to work.
- Find your passion in building the kingdom of God and milk it for all its worth. Get books on it. Watch videos or read stories of other people who are doing the same thing. Get stoked! And get to it.
- Surround yourself with people who feel like you. Yes, they can be hard to find. I get that. But the beauty of the modern age is, if you cant find anyone locally you can still connect with people who share the same burden all over the world. Join a Facebook group!
- Start a ministry. Anyone can do this. You don't need permission. Start it and get people plugged in. Take advantage of the networks you built in step 4 to gain wisdom, insight, and encouragement. On the other hand, consider joining an existing ministry if you have the chance.
- Remember your circle of influence. God hasn't called you to change the entire world. He has called you to be faithful to your particular circle of influence. So stick to that or else you will burn out.
- And lastly, keep yourself entirely connected to Jesus. After all, its his kingdom we are building not our own.
If each of us where to do this we can begin to restore a sense of relevance, purpose, and fire to our local church. Its certainly not easy but nothing of value in life ever is.