I normally blog daily, but sometimes it’s necessary not to allow a posting to sit out there too long. This is especially true when you are trying to make a point with a bit of dramatics. I became concerned that some folks who didn’t read my earlier posting carefully, and who does, might think I was advocating turning churches into taverns, or only slightly less offensive, a social club. Relax this is not so.
My point was that we are fond of saying that Christianity is about relationship. We often refer to the relationship between the believer and Christ. That relationship is the key stone of Christianity. But Jesus talks as much about the relationship between believers. The article I referred to was written by a pastor who spent ten years away from church. He was discussing the factors that brought him back. Being welcomed into a community drew him in, but does not a church make.
In fact, I belonged to a church years ago that was excellent at making folks feel loved and accepted. At first that was the first step and the members were led to relationship with Christ and work toward fulfilling the great commission. After a time, the members so enjoyed the fellowship that they lost track of Jesus and the mission. The church dried up.
As the writer of the article said, he was looking for more than community. He wanted the “deeper meaning” that everyone looks for and can find only find in a relationship with Christ in His Church. He may not have cared for worship and sermons as the factors that brought Him in; but they fostered His return to Jesus which is the only thing that gives deeper meaning.
The bottom line: Jesus told us that the way we loved each other would identify us as His; the way we carry out his commission verifies we are His.
I remember very little about the Cheers series. I remember it was funny and I remember that all the characters were lost and adrift. They found companionship and fellowship, but not deep meaning. Companionship and community are not ultimate ends in themselves. They unite us so we can accomplish the mission. Without the mission, you’re just a tavern. You need Jesus for meaningful mission and that’s what separates churches from taverns.
That and the refreshments and the lighting.