Spiritual Disciplines Within the Church (Pastor Joey Rountree)
(We are beginning a study of the disciplines of believers within the local church. This study is designed to equip the members of Jesus’ church with the wisdom to understand why we should gather, and what we gather to do.)
Consider the statement, “God is more concerned about the ‘Why,’ than the ‘What.'” Or, more personal, “Why am I doing what I am doing?” We only have to look as far as the biblical record of the Pharisees to realize it is possible to do all the right things for the wrong reasons. These went to great extremes to keep the Levitical law, yet Jesus condemned them. Why? They were doing for the wrong reasons.
Do we go to Church to worship God or to earn His favor? What other motives may we have for going to church?
James Montgomery Boice wrote that there is another motive for Church attendance that became prevalent in the 1970’s, which was labeled, “The Greening of America,” and “The Me Decade.” During this era, church members began to seek personal self fulfillment rather than selfless service to God and others. An anti-community attitude invaded the Church leaving members concerned about their own little circles of people. The message to everyone else was, “We’ll leave you alone and you leave us alone.”
Are we a product of that era? Are we consciously staying that way, or are we just to busy to care? Could we be making the problem worse? Our culture is replacing the “one on one (face to face)” method of communication with other means such as texting, Facebook, and etc. It is a hide away culture. With these devices, we have become a people who knows everything about everyone, while knowing nothing about anyone.
Chuck Swindoll asks these questions. “Could you say you have five close friends?” Then he asks, “Who are the eight people who will carry your casket?” And finally, “Can these eight people sit through your funeral service without looking at their cell phone?”
The Church is a community, not an assembly of Lone Ranger’s. The Church is not a group of individuals who just happen to come together on occasion. God said, “It is not good that man should be alone,” and Jesus said, “I will build My Church (Gen. 2:18; Matt. 16:18).” The Church is the Body of Christ, the family of God.
Donald Whitney lists six reasons we should come to church.
1. To declare the Glory of the Church and to invite people to enjoy it.
2. To contend against the consumerist view of the Church that is prevalent.
3. To contend against the privatization of public worship.
4. To encourage those that love the Church.
5. To help growing Christians learn about the Church.
6. To be there for anyone interested in spirituality.
***Some thoughts to consider from these points:
Do I enjoy church? If not, why? It is God’s intention that His people enjoy Him. His very best for believers is found in His Church.
The Glory of the Church is Jesus. He loves His Church and gave Himself for it (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:25).
Think about our attitudes towards an NFL game and worship. During thunderstorms, freezing temperatures, or scorching hot days we can have fun cheering on our favorite team. We’ll spend whatever it costs to participate.
Point: The potential for joy is greater in the Church than is promised to any earthly entity, but the Church is bending over backwards to be like the world. The Church has exactly what the world needs; Jesus.
For many, the Church is viewed as a religious shopping mall, patronized by religious consumers who perceive no responsibilities of their own. This includes a mentality of giving to the Church for services rendered, which leads to fewer servers and fewer ministries. When the services are no longer available, there is another church up the road.
Illustration: A man is rescued who has been stranded on an island. The rescuer notices the man has built three huts. When asked why, the man replies, “one hut was my home, another was my church.” “The third hut was built because I no longer liked my old church and moved my membership.”
What is the problem? The true Gospel is not being heard.
What is the answer? Preach the true Gospel and the problem will take care of itself.
We live and experience Christianity in the Church. While the Church cannot make anyone a Christian, the Christian cannot be the Christian God desires without the Church. Individualism hurts the Church. Whatever hurts the Church, hurts the believer.
The Church exists for Christ. Believers exist for Him and everybody else. We don’t do church, we are the Church.