Don't Go To Church!
Being the church demands more than attendance.
D. L. Moody was visiting a prominent Chicago citizen when the idea of church membership and involvement came up.
"I believe I can be just as good a Christian outside the church as I can be inside it," the man said.
Moody said nothing. Instead, he moved to the fireplace, blazing against the winter outside, removed one burning coal, and placed it on the hearth.
The two men sat together and watched the ember die out.
"I see," the other man said.
I wonder how many Christians have launched out from the church for what they thought were good reasons, only to find that what they were looking for could only be found where they left. So many people who claim to follow Christ live separately from the church. Some people avoid or leave the church due to the amount of hypocrisy they sense there. It's true the church has always had its share of racism and immorality and greed and every other sin in the book. Some have even been personally burned or betrayed by a church experience or leader. So they stay away. For others the problem is not hypocrisy; it's boredom. Who wants to sit for 40 minutes and listen to a lecture about a book written several thousand years ago? They become wearied by the unvarying routine: week after week they face the same crowded parking lot, sing the same songs, hear the same announcements, and see the same faces.
The question is, how could something that strikes some as riddled with hypocrisy and others as boring, be absolutely essential for our spiritual survival? Part of the problem is that we misunderstand the nature of the church, and our language is a dead give away. We talk about "going to church" the same way we talk about "going to the market" or "going to the mall." We think of the church as a ...
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Mark Mitchell is pastor of Central Peninsula Church in Foster City, California.