I get in trouble every time I study Acts. The Holy Spirit rushing in. The nascent church growing in power and boldness. The wise and prayerful solutions to schisms. The excitement about Jesus that just keeps building and building. The passion for His grace.
If I’m not careful, Acts just sometimes seems so—well—not like the church in America.
Here we have skinny jeans and java, tattooed worship bands and pumped-up hymns, trendy life groups and boatloads of books on Christian living. But when I look around on Sunday mornings, I don’t always feel like we have Acts-like power and love.
If you’ve felt that way, too, Eddie Kaufholz at Relevant wants you to take a good long look at yourself and your church situation before you head for the door:
“Before you get too deep into daydreaming about Sunday brunches and not having to slog through another small group, I’d like to ask you to consider three questions with me.”
So, what does Kaufholz suggest? Let’s break them down:
What is it about Church That’s Not Working for You?
Honestly, we younger Christians often have a feeling that “something” just isn’t right, and we assume that the answer must be in our exodus from the church building. But sometimes what we really need to do is take a closer look at our situation.
If there’s nothing doctrinal wrong with the church and if there’s nothing toxic about the atmosphere, perhaps the real problem is that we want something different:
“… my guess is that you’ve just grown tired of your church experience because you’re on the wave of a new generation of churchgoers. It’s not the church’s fault really, or yours: tastes change, romances fade, and without some measure of progress, relationships end.”
Many of us no longer want flashy. We want to recapture the mystery and wonder of being “in Christ” together as a body of believers.
But we also need to ask another question (this one can hurt)…
What is it About You That isn’t Working for the Church?
I’ve noticed that my love for church can fire up and wane depending on my own spiritual walk. When I’m truly engaging God and His Word, I’m much more excited about Sunday mornings. When I’m just schlepping through, those same hours can feel mundane. The more engaged I am, the better the experience.
That’s just what Kaufholz suggests:
“… would you entertain the possibility that maybe the issue isn’t that there’s a problem with your church, but maybe a staleness in your heart? This isn’t an attack on your character, but rather an educated guess based on a well-worn road where people become entranced by the Sunday show, feel like they’re engaging in community, never actually know others or allow themselves to be known, then wonder why they’re bored with this place.”
More than all this, though, we need to take a good long look back to Acts and to the rest of the Bible to remember something very important.
What’s the Point of Church?
The believers in Acts gathered together because it was God’s purpose and intent that Christ have a bride. And that bride is us. This isn’t meant to be a fly-by-night, one-night-stand relationship. This is meant to be a lifelong deal. We need each other, and we’re joined to each other by one simple fact: Christ died for all of us.
In a similar article on BibleStudyTools.com, Dr. Craig Blomberg explains why church isn’t just a “nice to do” thing. It’s a necessity:
“It’s here in the U.S., in the Western world more generally, where so much less is at stake that we offer up such pathetic reasons (at least I suspect God considers them pathetic) for not joining together with fellow believers on a regular, weekly basis. And almost all of the excuses are anthropocentric [human-centered] rather than Christocentric. That’s a fancy way of saying we’ve in essence reworded the well-known praise song to make it say, ‘It’s all about me, Lord,’ rather than ‘It’s all about you, Jesus!’ ”
Now, it’s your turn. Has your love for church run cold? Have you found ways to reignite the passion you felt for joining with other believers?