“Why bother going to church, anymore?” Many have asked themselves this question. Have you left the church? Are you thinking about leaving? Maybe you’re still hanging in there because you don’t know what else to do, despite a vague sense of emptiness. You’re not alone. Like millions of geese flying south to escape the frigid temperatures and cold emptiness of winter, millions of Christians from every corner of the institutional church are leaving to escape the emptiness of another kind. Yes, we’ll go to church next week but whatever happened to being the Church?
Where is the open, loving community where you can be truly known, accountable, accepted, loved and cared for – where the needs of the heart are met and healthy iron-sharpening-iron relationships flourish?
There is no lack of smiles in the church lobby but, where is the Church where people actually spend time getting to know each other deeply, where “fellowship” isn’t just a word on the event bulletin referring to coffee and cookies before the service starts? Where is the close fellowship and heart commitment among men and women seeking to live in a true discipleship community for the purposes of Jesus Christ? Where is the gathering of believers where personal relationships are not disposable? Where do you look to find a place where you belong – a place where you actually matter to someone?
Where is that community? Isn’t this how the New Testament Christians walked? Isn’t this how Christians today are supposed to live?
Does it exist . . . anywhere?
Like so many, someone I now well was surrounded by people every Sunday in a building called “The Church” but month after month she felt empty and disconnected. Ironic, isn’t it . . . Jesus is the Good Shepherd and so many sheep feel lost, hungry, and alone. Ultimately, she just drifted away . . . no one noticed. Is this how you feel? Does it seem as if you left today, no one would even notice your absence?
“I will build my Church . . .” (Matthew 16:18) Really? Jesus said that?
Because if the organization we call “The Church” is what Jesus is building, he’s not a very good builder.
What is the Church all over Europe but a series of expensive, ornate, empty echo chambers? The historical value remains. Cathedrals may be great places to visit on vacation but they’re a terrible place to find spiritual food. They’re empty of people because they’re empty of spiritual relevance. When you have little to say to a person’s mind, offer nothing for healing her wounds, give nothing to feed his soul, provide nothing to challenge her heart, eventually he/she stops listening and exits, unnoticed, out those big welcoming doors, past the smiling greeters.
It’s easy to point to the dead religion of Old Europe and think things are much better in the West but, as millions have personally discovered, a church can be wall-to-wall people with a happening worship vibe, awesome women’s ministry with a hip youth culture and leave the soul every bit as empty as any 500 year old cathedral.
If the Church of the Good Shepherd and Master Builder is filled with people who are lost, hungry, and alone, we need to ask ourselves a question:
Is this really what Jesus built? How would we know? Where should we turn to discover the answer?
In today’s podcast, we’re talking about how we’re called to walk together as believers in the matter of knowing others and being known – being accountable to and cared for by those we’re walking with. The biblical word we’re exploring is ‘fellowship’ and what it actually means to walk in biblical fellowship. How can you find genuine trust relationships in your local Church? We hope you join us for the conversation. Catch the Faithful Life Podcast on iTunes or just click on the player of your choice, below . . .
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Matt Jacobson is the founder of FaithfulMan.com a biblical marriage, parenting, and discipleship ministry providing written and audio teaching, as well as couples marriage coaching. He is the co-host (with his wife, Lisa) of Faithful Life Podcast and is author of the bestseller, 100 Ways to Love Your Wife. Matt is pastor of Tumalo Bible Fellowship and is married to Lisa, founder of Club31Women.com (they have 8 kids!).