Sunday, February 15, 2004

when not "going" to church could mean "becoming" community

Why do we "go" to church? I ask this question because I haven't gone to a Sunday morning service in two weeks. I slept in. I realized this morning just how little motivation there is for me to "go" to church.

This sounds funny even to me as I type it. Here I am a future pastor and a seminary student. Shouldn't I be motivated to go to a church building on Sunday morning for singing and a sermon? One would think so. I hope my church people are more motivated on a Sunday morning than I am.

My struggle is that I don't find my community in the people that I gather with on Sundays. I have a few friends there for sure. But its not were I find my Christian community. I think this may be the case for many Christians who go to "Christian" Universities or seminary. We find our community of nurture and challenge all around us during the week. But the last place we feel united with the people next to us is Sunday morning in a church building.

I have to admit, I have missed the sermons. I like to hear sermons and to be challenged. I have missed the music. David Crowder and his band are great worship leaders. God moves when we sing there on Sunday mornings. But God is moving all week. I was convicted not by a sermon this week, but by the movie "Monster." My daily prayer times have been more worshipful than ever. I am facing God and dealing with him daily. He shows up when I am doing homework. He hangs out when I am at work. I saw him in the snow and heard him in the voice of my friends.

So right now, Sunday morning is not really church for me. Its more of a weekly ceremony reminding me that I am a Christian. Its not me offering God anything. I try to offer my life to Him every day. It may be me offering God one hour of my time and some songs but I offer many hours and songs all week long.

More and more I am realizing that all those "delinquents" who slept in on Sunday morning in college were not as dumb as I judged them to be. They were more like prophets. By their sleep they criticized the church. They said to the church body, "Your community sucks, and the world offers better community than you!"

Now don't hear me say that I am advocating that everyone sleep in Sunday morning. But I will advocate this: If sleeping in on Sunday meant that one could find joyful songs, sacrificial lives, loving community and a supernatural unity in the church body during the week, then I say "SABBATH MEANS REST!"

Imagine with me for just a second. Every Christian who is fired up about the Lord sleeping in on Sunday. Getting hours of physical rest. Relaxing all afternoon. Playing football, watching football, taking naps, and eating. And being restored in every way for the coming week. And then during the week, they truly lived in a powerful community of faith. People who invited strangers into their homes. People who loved unconditionally. People who shared their belongings. A community that didn't make sense to the world. And what if this faith community was active and vibrant in the world community for 6 days during the week. And then on the 7th, they rested.

Now that is church. That is the group I want to hang out with. That is the kinda person I want to be. That is the kinda church I want to pastor. Maybe one day sleeping in on Sundays would be a sign of spiritual maturity and not laziness. But for now, I will try to make it to UBC next Sunday.

Father, help us all to become the church that you have called us to become.


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