I was reading a magazine recently and stumbled upon a little blurb about church congregations meeting in movie theaters.  I didn’t think too much about the topic because I know of churches in my hometown who began meeting in theaters.  My husband and I even visited one such congregation when we first moved to Massachusetts.

What caught my attention was a quote in the article from a pastor in Washington, D.C., who said, “There are ways of doing church that no one has thought of yet.”

I leaned over to my husband and asked him to read it.

Then I said, “When are we going to stop talking about how we do church and start talking about being the Church?”

I’m going to just cut to the chase on this issue.  What I’m about to say will probably ruffle some feathers and will certainly be misunderstood by some.  However, I’m becoming more convinced that the Church of Jesus Christ does not understand her role.  Nor does she seem to be concerned that this is the case.

And yet she is called to make herself ready for her Bridegroom (Revelation19:7).

I fear we will be caught unaware.  And we will realize that we missed the boat completely.

Perhaps it is because we live in a society that worships self-sufficiency.  Maybe it’s because we are entrenched in a consumer culture.  Or because we are more concerned with what we’re going to get out of this thing called life, rather than being concerned about its purpose in the first place.

But somehow we, self-professed followers of Christ, have come to think that church is something we go to, something we do, and – dare I say – somewhere we should be entertained.

And that’s just not biblical.

My concern is that we’ve become far too concerned with how we “do church,” and we don’t realize that we are simply whitewashing tombs while millions of souls – possibly even our own – lay in shambles (Matt. 23:27).

It seems as though much of the discussion in churches today centers around marketing a weekly show intended to satisfy a niche audience.  And I just wonder if we’ve forgotten where the Holy Spirit dwells and, in the process, been focusing on getting the wrong house in order (I Cor. 3:16-17).

I went to college in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  My freshman year was the last year that the Chapel Hill Bible Church met in its long-time worship center within walking distance of campus.  They moved to a new location after that year, but one thing stands out about that first place of worship.  The sign out front read, “The Meeting Place of the Chapel Hill Bible Church.”  Some friends reminded me of this awhile ago, and the article I read last week brought it to mind again. 

I bring this up because I think it is the central issue.  Most churches would have had a sign reading, “Chapel Hill Bible Church.”  And that’s completely fine.  (My point here is not that churches everywhere change their signs.)  But I think that their sign demonstrated that they saw themselves as the Church.  And the building where they met was just that – a meeting place. 

Anything and everything that takes place within the walls of a church is meant to empower us to live out our identity when we leave the building.

It is not our calling to design programs and facilities simply to draw more people inside a building. 

It is our calling to draw them into a body.

To take their God-ordained role in a community of believers meant to be the hands, feet, ears, and eyes of Jesus in this world.

Oh, that we would stop doing church. 

That we would stop playing church.

Oh, that we would be the Church – a body of whom Jesus Christ is the Head.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.  (Ephesians 2:19-22)