A fire broke out in the Church of a small town. The fire brigade arrived with the usual wailing of sirens, to put out of the fire. The Pastor of the Church recognized one of the men and said, "Hello Jim, I haven't seen you in the Church for a long time." The fireman struggling with the hose and sweating and answered "Well, preacher, there hasn't been a fire in this Church for a long time!"
Martin Luther said,” Anyone who is to find Christ must first find the church. How could anyone know where Christ is and what faith is in him unless he knew where his believers are? "
I was reading a story about a Church goer (a Church goer is a person who goes to the church sincerely every Sunday) who wrote a letter to a Christian magazine editor. He titled his letter, "I am planning to stop going to the Church". The reasons that he gave is. He attended 50,000 church services in his life time. He sang more than 60,000 hymns. He did more than 80,000 prayers and he attended 20,000 bible studies. So now he is planning to stop going to the Church.
In reply of this a Christian magazine editor wrote, “I understand all your experiences and all your logical explanation about not going to the Church." He continue in his replying by writing that" I want to share something which is equally important what you wrote to me and it helps you understand the importance of a Church in a life of Christian."
He share his experience, “In his life time he ate 55,000 dishes prepared by his wife, 80,000 drinks he drank and more than 20,000 snacks he ate. But the most important things is that I need all of these food and drink material today also to exist my physical body on this face of earth. So as my physical body needs earthly food to survive on this earth. So my spiritual life needs living Word to survive in my Christian life."
I like to bring out three important things in the article about the early Church which really model for this contemporary era for us. The important things are:
- Church is a place of witness.
- Church is a place of Fulfillment.
- Church is a place of God's mission station.
CHURCH IS A PLACE OF WITNESS
In Acts 11.26 it is written, "So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch."
Joel Osteen said ,"You can be committed to Church but not committed to Christ, but you cannot be committed to Christ and not committed to church."
Church is the community of believers where we have a fellowship to learn the Word of God, praise the living God, thank him for what he has done and submit our intercession, petitons, confession to Lord Jesus Christ and to uphold each other in Christ Jesus.
In the Bible disciples are called first time Christians in Antioch. It is the moment when disciples and apostles spending time in the Church. They are not involve them for open air preaching or some village or some city preaching but the Apostle Paul and Barnabas spend time with the Church of Antioch for one year and other faith people recognized them as Christian. What a wonderful example we have from the early Church which is recorded in the Bible.
When D.L.Moody was a young man, he made it a common practice in the church he attended to rent seats in a pew in the front row. One Sunday morning, young moody marched into the Church with a group of people who were evidently social out-castes. He had rented four pews in the Church, and went around inviting all sorts of people to come with him to Church.
Today many preachers, Bible teachers and other speakers motivate Church people to go out from the Church and witness that you are a Christian. It is good but until we are not witnessing inside the Church we cannot be witnessing outside the Church.
If you observe some small things when we come to the Church it really gives the view how you become witness for Christ by coming in the Church. When we come to the Church, the first thing we testify Lord Jesus is my Savior and God, we testify that Lord Jesus Christ is the way, truth and life, we testify that Bible is the living Word of God, we testify that we worship the Lord who can hear our prayers, and answer it according to His will and plan, we testify through praises that He is the creator ,sustainer and controller of the World and He gave is only begotten son Jesus Christ to die for everyone so through Him we get an eternal life. This all thing we testify without the words to the people of other faith. Is not wonderful? Church is a place of witness.
Joel Osteen said, "Most people already know what they're doing wrong. When I get them to church I want to tell them that you can change."
Lee Baxton, an American businessman and social worker, served as the Mayor of his city for two years between 1952-1953. As Mayor, he presided in the Mayor's court, and during his tenture about 2,400 cases come up before him for criminal offences whether they had been regular attendants to the Church or to Sunday School. Many of them either admitted that they had never been to Church or Sunday school or that they had done so a long time back. The Mayor was convinced that Church-going played a crucial part in keeping down the rate of crimes. It's not necessary that all who go to the Church or Sunday school won't ever commit crimes, but these activities do indeed lead to good behavior.
Is I am witnessing for a Christ? Church is an instrument for you to do so.
CHURCH IS A PLACE OF FULFILLMENT (Spiritual & physical)
Joel Osteen said, "Most people already know what they're doing wrong. When I get them to church I want to tell them that you can change."
Many people believe that Church is a place where we have to give the money to maintain the building, do the construction, replace old things from new but early church gives the picture of Church as a place of fulfillment.It is spiritual as well as physical.
In a door-to-door survey conducted by Willow Creek Community Church the question was asked: if you don't go to church, why? The five biggest reasons: 1) Boring, 2) Irrelevant, 3) Asking for money all the time, 4) I'm too busy already, 5) I feel awkward at church.
If we see the book of Acts it gives a very good example that Church is a place of fulfillment. It has a Spiritual and physical fulfillment. Is it very important for each Christian to go to the Church.
First we see the Spiritual fulfillment.
Acts 2:42-43,"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles."
Acts 2:46-47 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
What an amazing picture of the early Church fellowship. Is it not wonderful when all the people united and break the bread and spend the time in prayer?
Indian Christianity famous for education and health and service but it never be famous for their spirituality. Why? We are having the Word of God, we know the way of eternal life even then we are failed to portrait the living Christ. Sometimes it seems that we become a good social worker but fail to be a Spiritual leader. The only reason is the Church is not be given the important. We have to be very careful that Churches and Christian institution should not be Change into a social complex. It should stand for a spiritual heritage.
A famous artist was asked to paint a picture of a dying Church, which would be a warning to the erring members. It was expected that he would paint a small and humble congregation in a dilapidated building of the Church. Instead, he painted a stately edifice with a rich pulpit and magnificent windows and near the door, and offering box, marked ‘MISSIONS’ with the contribution slot blocked by thick cobwebs.
Martin Luther said, "Anyone who is to find Christ must first find the church. How could anyone know where Christ is and what faith is in him unless he knew where his believers are?"
People come to the Church where they get a spiritual company and where they are encouraged to strengthen their faith in Christ Jesus. If they come to the Church where only eating and drinking taking place or it sees that it is sought of club membership so what makes the difference between the Church and world.
Arthur Boers in the magazine, The Other Side, May/June edition, in1989 wrote, "I often visit newcomers in town and find them to be church shopping. They want to know what they can get out of church. Churches are one more consumer commodity. Worship services are not a place for us to serve God and neighbor but a place where people expect to purchase the best: Inspiring worship, good music, moving sermons, quality child care. As if we buy God and not vice versa."
We as the Church members has to understand that our fight is not physical but with power of darkness which is in spiritual realm and we only defeat them by the power of the Word of God and the spiritual weapon prayer and fellowship.
One sunday morning, five young men went to the Church in London where C.H.Spurgeon was to speak. They arrived at the Church a little while before the service began. As they were looking around, a person greeted and welcomed them as they looked like new-comers. He asked them whether he could take them to the heating plant of the Church. As it was a warm day and these young collegians could not understand why he wanted to show them the heating plant of the Church. But since they didn't have anything else to do, they agreed. The man led them down the stairway to the basement Chamber, quietly opened the door and whispered, "Here is our heating apparatus. " A large number of people, nearly many hundred in all, were kneeling and praying for the blessing of the service. They were the heating system for the service! As the young men emerged from the basement, their heart warmed, the man who accompanied them so far, introduce himself as Spurgeon. Spurgeon valued and sought the intercessory prayer of his church members.
.Martin Luther said, "For where God built a church, there the Devil would also build a chapel."
We ought to pray for our pastor, the preachers and for the church service to be a blessing to ourselves, our families and everyone who attends.
Church is a place where a person uplifted spiritually which secular world did not provide. Church gives moral, ethics and way of living where as world provides all kind of teaching which demolishes the life of a person.
Billy Graham once said, "I am afraid we, in the Church, are making a great mistake by trying to take the Christianity popular and pleasant. We have taken the cross away and substituted cushions."
Now we see the physical fulfillment
Acts 2:44-45 , "All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need."
Church is a place of physical fulfillment which comes through the same Church members. It is a really a great example by the early Church. It wasn't a foreign support but it is a support comes from within the Church. Today when people give the money to the Church they want their name should be announce, many times so people know that this person is giving or that person is giving but in the early Church they bring everything to the apostle and apostle decides whom the Church has to given. It is a support but it goes in the name of Church support to the other church members.
Methodist Biishop Hazen G.Wernor stated, "We have been dried out by the hot winds of secularism. We who are to overcome the world, have been overcome by the world."
Church is a place of giving. It gives eternal life, living Word, praise, prayer, fellowship and also provide the things for needy.In the book of Acts there is a wonderful example we read about it in the book of Acts.
I remember a story about a Pastor who went with his son to pray for the need of a slum people. They spent an hour to pray for all the slum people. After the prayer a son asked his father to give him his wallet. His father said, "Why you are asking my wallet?" He said, "just now we spent an hour for praying for the needs of these people. And if we did not give to them, than how God will provide their needs? They choose you and me to provide you the needs of the slum people. It is not enough to pray but also to act."
In the early Church people provide the needs for other Church member by selling their own possession. What a community which is really concerned about the own church member. But the unique way of giving is also another way of learning for us. They bring everything to the apostle and apostle give to other Church people who needs the support. So it is the Church who provides whether the name of any individual is announce or not.
The well-known preacher of Halle, August Hermann Franche, managed an orphanage. One day a very poor woman came to him and begged for one gold ducat to meet the urgent need of hers. Though Franche politely refused, she kept persistently begging him tearfully. Although he had his own needs for the orphanage, due to the compelling prompting of the Holy Spirit, he gave her money. A few days later, the grateful woman wrote a letter thanking him and mentioned that she had prayed for the Lord's special blessing on the orphanage to meet all its need. On that very day, Franche received 12 ducats from a lady and another 25 from a stranger who come in to see the orphanage. In a few moment he also learnt that a prince who died had left a bag containing 500ducats for the orphanage. This only one of the true story from hundreds of the true stories where a member of Christian community becomes blessing for others.
. In the book of 1st Corinthian the Apostle Paul sketch the relationship with a fellow Church member in book of 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpreventable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it."
Church is a place of fulfillment and it is both spiritual and physical fulfillment. It is a very important for a every Christian to go to the Church and be a part of God's community.
CHURCH IS A GOD'S MISSION STATION
In book of Acts 11:22, "News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch."
The one of the most important work of the Church is that they network and support other Churches. That 's is why Church is God's mission station. This picture which we can draw from the book of Acts.
Church is a place where mission is supported, accomplished, recognized, channelized, organized and some time iti s also pressurized to move forward in any situations. Especially in India where the Christian religion is considered as a foreign religion. There is various important reason why the Christian religion called a foreign religion. The important thing the Christ message should be communicated to all the people in the context. It should be go on and go on. It only go on when you and me be a part of the Church.
Church needs prayer warriors, praise and worship leaders, organizers ,missionaries, candidate for a ministry for the new generation, evangelistic, net workers with other Church, Bible teachers, youth leaders, sunday school workers and other people who go for house to house visit along with pastor. Church is a place where all these things happen. It is not only a place where we just go out for Sundays and we are blank for the week. It is a community where 24 hours works go on and we are the one of the part of the mission station to play the role which God has given to you and me.
But it is not happen until you and me a part of God's community. I was reading a poem titled, "If you want to kill the Church”, it has a great learning for all the Christian if we did not play our part we kill the Church. Though the source is unknown but content has very powerful impact.
If You Want to Kill the Church
Never go to your church or meetings held there,
If you do go, be late, it's no one's affair.
If the weather is bad, either too hot or snowing,
Just stay home and rest, for there'll be others going.
But should you attend, be sure and remember
To find fault with the work, each official and member.
Be sure to hold back on your offerings and tithes,
The bills will be paid by the rest of the guys.
And never take office if offered the post,
But eagerly criticize work of the host.
If not on a committee you're placed, be sore!
If you find that you are, don't attend any more.
When asked your opinion on this thing or that,
Have nothing to say, just turn 'em down flat.
Then after the meeting, shine out like the sun
By telling the folks how it should have been done.
Don't do any more than you possibly can,
Leave the work for some other woman or man.
And when you see faithful ones work themselves sick,
Then stand up and holler, "It's run by a clique!"
According to U.S.A. Today, May 25, 1994,48% of church-goers attend an average of once a month. The Church needs not only to wake up, but to get up. Many wake up, turn over and go to sleep again. Some say, "The church cannot save you. Christ saves you. We need Christianity, not churchianity." That is true, but what is usually meant by folks who say this is that one can please God and be saved without being a member of the church. The question is: Will Christ save people outside the church?Yes but it save through the Church. The Church in the Bible is the organization founded and owned by Christ. The main purpose why Christ founded His Church, is to save those who are inside the Church from the wrath of God on Judgment Day. In the book of Ephesians Chapter 5 and the verse 25 it is written "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” In the book of Acts 20.28 it is mention, "Keep watch over youselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood." In book of Colossians 1:18, "And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy." Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the Church.
The life of the church of Jesus Christ is not meant to be a mere human organization, but a divinely empowered instrument of God's Grace. As St. Francis is said to have sung: "Lord make me an instrument of thy Peace…," which is followed by his well-known graceful prayer of self-giving love. To limit our arena of concern and knowledge to only those persons we live among or meet along our journey is to miss the power and life-giving purpose of Christian faith. We are called as Christians to love the whole world, for which Christ died and was raised to new life.
WARNING -At last I want to warn every Christian should be a diligent to find a Church which is really growing. There are Churches which lost the sight because of the leadership and because of the committee members. So when you are a part of the Church you should be diligent to find a Church which is according to the Bible. Many Churches lost the vision and they have their own shepherds and their own ideology, their own committees and leaders who want to please them to save their own position or who never want to retire from their post and many new Christians diverted,destructed and even lost the faith because of these Churches. They forget why Lord Jesus Christ came to the world. Their eyes and heart turn from heaven to earth.They lost the burden for the mission and evangelism they turned into social complex which loose the sight for eternal life.
Written by –
PASTOR Avinash Singh (B.A, B.D.,M.A.)
Permanent Address- OLD H.NO.23, NEW NO.22, SINGH VILLA, YELLOW CHURCH CAMPUS, SIPRI BAZAR, JHANSI (U.P.)-284003, INDIA
Contact number – (+91)09598727359, (+91)05102361164