You may have noticed that Jesus said quite a few things about life and how to live it. The followers of Jesus have worked hard to build a thing called christian mysticism because Jesus told them they should. But what did Jesus actually have to say (or not say) about the church.
1. Jesus never said that churches should meet on a Sunday.
Of course the early church decided this one but it gave them something of a problem. In the Roman world Jews were given the right to have time off on a Saturday but Christians were not given such a privilege – at least not at first. They chose to meet on a Sunday because this was the day that Jesus rose from the dead. To meet they had to get up early (very early) go to church and then go to work afterwards. How many churches follow this pattern today? How come some churches would rather the church closed than that they should consider meeting on a different day of the week? When was the last time a church asked people when they would like to meet?
2. Jesus never said that the church should be a social club
So often the church ends up like a club to which the chosen ones (chosen by themselves of course and not by God) who fit belong. Jesus never said you had to be a particular colour or earn a particular amount of money. Jesus never said people with tattoos are not welcome. Jesus never said sinners can go elsewhere because we don’t want them in this church. The task that Jesus gave the church was to tell people about Him and to make disciples. Isn’t it odd that many churches seem to make the real task such a low priority?
3. Jesus never said that churches need to have twelve or more people to be called a church
It seems in many denominations that there is an assumption that unless there are twelve people or more in a gathering it should be called a fellowship or a house group but not a church. Why is this? I think many big churches do a great job and it would be wrong to criticise a church for just being big. However Jesus talked about two or three gathering together. After the resurrection on one occasion Jesus broke bread with just two other people – he didn’t say we don’t have enough to be called a church so we had better not take communion.
4. Jesus never said “form a committee”
Some people in the church seem to love committees don’t they? They can’t get enough of them. Some people love them so much that they will happily go to a committee meeting every night but if you suggest a prayer meeting nobody turns up. Haven’t we got things very wrong indeed?
5. Jesus never said “real churches will be organised into large denominations with an annual conference”.
Why do people so often think that unless a church is affiliated to a denomination it can’t be a real church? Now I know the benefits of being part of a bigger organisation but was this really what God had in mind? Isn’t it true that denominations exist to support the work of churches? So why is it that denominations often seem to be unsupportive of local church efforts?
Don’t get me wrong I believe passionately in the church. The church can make a real difference in people’s lives. But here are some suggestions as to how a church could be more friendly to it’s people.
Churches should start by cutting out all committees (perhaps we should allow one short committee for administration purposes) to set their people free to do other things.
Churches should ask people when would be the best day to meet for worship and then plan services on days and at times that people want to come. I include people who don’t come to church at present – perhaps they don’t come because the day and time are wrong. They should put sharing the Christian faith and helping Christians live a Christian life before anything else.