I have been planning a post on church for a long time and could not find words that expressed my message. I'd like to first refer you to a post written by Ashley at http://biblechick4him.blogspot.com/2005/06/what-is-church.html#comments.
I'd like to focus on this topic through a method I don't suggest be used to make a sound conclusion often. I'd like to figure this out backwards, so to speak. Let us shape an image of what we think and would like church to be and then test it with scripture. Think for yourself, for a moment, what ideal church would be. What's it basic mission in the world, who is part of it, what is its nature? I'll now express what I believe church is called to do scripturally. Church should be drastically different from our every day conversations as we sometimes go to the extreme to say. Not to down play our small talk, it is a very good thing, but the church should have at least two sub missions within the basic goal of mending, shaping, healing this world out of love for them and a passionate hope in Jesus.
First, an inward mission: this should focused on the fellowship of the church, community. The members of the church should be wholely concerned with their church family. wholely meaning every broken piece every problem, every good circumsatnce, everything. That does not mean gosipping or assuming things about people and sharing it. It does not mean allowing someone's problems alienate them. If anything someones problems should have a powerful magnetic force drawing them to the healing power of a relationship with people who care. If someone is acting strange and closed off the church should respond, taking up the responsebility of love. The mission here is acceptance. The world That knows only exile should be gloriously introduced to the message of love and open acceptance. they should be introduced to a God and a church that loves them exactally how they are.
The second, an outward mission: Likely to seem more abstract, there is a broad statement to be made about the outward mission of the Church; The church is to; in the words of N.T. Wright "shaping our world in the power of the spirit..." "implement his [Jesus] achievement" of breaking into history and breaking the bonds of evil powers. That means doing away with all that does not belong here in this new season of history, in this redeemed world. We, the church, as it says in the song, are "Jesus to the world" we are the "light of the world." We must "take up our cross" grieve and symathize with the pain of the world wherever it exsists. We must, now this is important, be engaged in bringing this world into harmony, once again, with God. We have responsebility to reconcile the world with God. Our heart has to be, on the road at least to being as big as God's, doing everything in love.
If people who seek God feel like they don't belong in church there has to be something very wrong. I'd like to see the church become a place of acceptance and hope for people who have, at least, alot of trouble finding it.
It is not even resonable to speculate this model without it being built upon a foundation of love for God. Worship must be a central aspect of this mission of shaping the world.
My heart breakes for people that don't find the same Jesus I know when they go to church and I am angry at the churches that attack the world as an enemy instead of having compassion resulting in healing. Why is it so hard to "do church" at most churches in America? I feel so often that I am in the audience for a while and then I leave the same way I'd leave a movie or a concert. Church is as Ashley said "church is so much more than a building we go to on Sunday mornings and one other night during the week. I believe the church is every where." It's presence should resound in the world, its healing should spread like the antidote for every problem in the world because it is the presence of God because of the Holy spirit.