He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:14
I went to church but I didn’t go all the way in. To be honest, I just didn’t feel like hearing another sermon. I have heard it all before. I have sat and filled in the blanks dutifully, like one more task I have to check off. Done. On to the next thing.
I miss the interaction. I miss how at my old church they would ask if anyone had a burden, a need. And then others standing by would surround them, touch them, hands like gentle doves lighting on shoulders, backs…….. and the Pastor would pray. Sometimes they would cry and we would want to cry too. There is something powerful about the laying on of hands…..passing the Spirit from one to another.
It unifies us all.
Somehow I can’t escape the feeling that we are leaving with our burdens intact. There might be a burning need right next to me, and I would never know it. An inner cry for help like a dial tone unanswered.
We leave as the islands we are. Untouched. Still carrying the heavy load.
I wonder and not for the first time if the Spirit is not quenched with all our organization. Just one Sunday I wish the Pastor would stop and say, “Now everyone turn to your neighbor, not the one you came with, the one you don’t know, and pray for each other for 15 minutes.”
And I miss the altar call. Some say it’s just not needed anymore. It makes people feel embarrassed, singled out. But I disagree. I feel like it’s what draws us all in, and holds us together. Makes us remember when we were the one propelled out of our seat, and how that aisle looked impossibly long.
And when it was just you and the Lord, and no one else. And somehow, you know that this one thing, this one moment will change the course of your eternal destiny. What in the world matters more than that? I believe churches are robbing their congregations when they take this Holy moment away.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the church more than ever. When I miss it, something is wrong. But I also think that church happens more often than not after we leave the building.
As we sat yesterday with old friends, listening to all they have been through since we had last seen them I felt church happen with the exchange of tears. When she said she was finally getting help in dealing with the death of their little boy. That little boy who was their whole world and in some ways still is.
I can see how that little boy is so alive to them still. And how if he knew what a shadow his death made on their marriage, how sad he would be. I wish I would have told her that if he knew his Mommy was finally getting help, that he would smile from Heaven.
We talked of how it will never go away, he will never go away. But you learn to make some kind of peace with it. And go on for others who still need you.
Church happens when love happens, and not just on Sunday. But over coffee, in between classes, in parking lots, in school buses, everywhere God is.
It happens when we remember the Cross and what was done on it, for us. And that every single thing we bear in this life, He already dealt with.
It was nailed to the cross when He was.
In light of that, we stand at the edge of eternity every day. And with each day, no matter what we have to handle, our gratitude can’t help but grow.
We just can’t stop counting the gifts. Join me today? And Ann at Holy Experience here.
7 thoughts on “When Church Happens”
Lori — I love this, wondering about and feeling for the Church, the Body of Christ, as you do. And I agree with you: church happens, more often than not, after we leave the building…and when love happens.
Thank you for sharing your heart here with all of us.
Thank you dear Pam, by the way if you ever have a specific need I would be happy to pray for you 🙂 you have kids so I know you have needs! Lori
My husband and I have been out of the church for quite a while. I didn't say we've been out of God's will or away from God, just out of church. Like you – we miss it the 'realness' of what it's supposed to be like. But when the church's focus is more on the things of the world and less on the people of the world, we wonder “Why go?”.
'Church' isn't somewhere we 'go'. Church is what we do – how we live. And it takes place wherever we take and worship Christ and do as He did. Everywhere we go.
There's a growing number of Christians who are not just dissatisfied with the organization of the church, but it causes them spiritual discomfort to the point where they can't attend anymore. We're no less Jesus-loving, Christ-following people. We're grieved that we can't find Him in His house!
And until we can find a church that loves Jesus and His people (inside and outside of their building) more than it loves money and numbers, we'll just find alternative ways to BE the church.
Hugs and prayers my friend,
Oh…my….word. This is EXACTLY where I am at this season in my life. I'm so hurt, saddened, frustrated, etc. I just don't know what to do. Two weeks ago, I actually made it into the building, stood in the back for about 10 minutes, and then ran out. I just COULDN'T be in there. My church has changed so much. Trying desperately hard to be relevant, but being SO much like the world, more concerned with numbers, programs, marketing Jesus to the 'lost' outsiders, while forgetting about the lost and hurting within the church walls. I would REALLY love to speak with both of you…Lori and Deb…about this. I feel so out of sorts at what is happening. Thank you!
I really think the Church is going through some things right now, in America that is. From everything I have heard the Church is growing massively in other parts of the world…we just have to be alittle bit creative……Like you said, church is not a building per se, it is “Us” believers, you and me. I also think that is the reason we are seeing so many home churches sprouting up. The real church is happening but sometimes we have to really look around to find it! I so know what you mean, Pam and Deb!
The corporate gatherings certainly have an important function, but we can also miss the heart of what God wants to do in these times. We have to understand again that the church is not a building or a meeting time, we are His Church, His bride. Coming together is about growth and supporting one another in a different way, but it can never replace our shining Jesus' love and light to our brothers, sisters, and the world. Good thoughts, Lori. Thanks.
Lori and Pam, I am a firm believer that God will judge His church first. And I believe we're in a time where there's a 'sifting' taking place – a 'shaking' as a thresher shakes and shifts to separate the wheat from the chaff. Unfortunately, because the church has become an 'organization' instead of a true corporate gathering of God's people for the benefit of worshiping our Almighty God and Savior and encouraging and edifying one another, we're seeing some things taking place in the church that shouldn't be there. Marketing Jesus was never the intent of God's heart for His church. In the midst of the marketing, people are not being shepherded and discipled, needs are not being met, relationships aren't being established – and the communities around the church buildings aren't being reached or changed.
It seems to be the grass-roots, organic (often house churches) where God is moving and ministering today. I know a couple who live in Malaysia who sneak over into China to minister to the pastors of underground churches. Those churches have no heat, very little money (they don't even take an offering!), and very little Christian education. But revival is breaking out like crazy and people are being saved and healed and delivered. That is 'real church' to me.