Back to Church part 1
Back2Church: Rediscovering Our Role in the Church Body
Most pastors desire to see their members return to church. This is not our talking point today.
Let's address the fact that you are the church, but we often associate the church as the place where we gather to support our fellow believers, especially those who are weaker. If there's one responsibility every believer shares, it's discipleship.
I want to embark on this journey with you to help you recognize the significance of our roles in the church body. What kind of church do you want to be? The one that cares for people in despair or the one that rejects those who are hurting?
Life consists of four seasons, and it's important not to judge a person based on just one season.
In a story, an old man sent each of his four sons to inspect a pear tree during different seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Each son returned with a unique report based on the season they observed. Spring: The first son inspected the pear tree in spring and reported that it was covered in beautiful blossoms. He was amazed by the vibrant and colorful flowers that adorned the tree. To him, it seemed like a tree full of promise and potential.
Summer: The second son visited the pear tree during the summer season. He returned with a report of abundant and juicy pears hanging from the branches. He couldn't believe how fruitful the tree had become, with its branches bending under the weight of the ripe fruit.
Autumn: The third son examined the pear tree during autumn. He reported that the leaves were changing color, displaying shades of red, orange, and gold. Although there were fewer pears than in summer, he found the tree's autumnal beauty captivating.
Winter: The fourth son went to see the pear tree in winter, and he found it standing bare and seemingly lifeless. There were no blossoms, no leaves, and no fruit. It looked stark and barren.
Each son's report reflected the unique characteristics of the tree during the different seasons, highlighting how our perspective can change based on the timing of our observations. The story encourages us not to judge something or someone based on a single moment but to consider the broader context and the season they may be going through.
The reality is, we must refocus on the mission. While the church is essential, its mission is the core reason for our existence.
Let's use the word B.A.C.K. as an acronym for some talking points.
B - Building Community: Returning to and Belonging
During the days when we were compelled to stay away from our church homes due to the pandemic, many experienced a profound sense of disconnection. However, some discovered that upon returning to church, they not only found their spiritual family but also experienced a renewed sense of belonging and community.
Hebrews 10:24-25 underscores the importance of gathering together as believers: "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."
These verses remind us of the power of communal encouragement in our faith journey.
When we return to church, we actively contribute to our community's well-being. We become a source of hope, love, and support to those around us. As a church family, we are not just present within the walls of our congregation; we are also actively engaged in the broader community, making a positive impact.
Building Relationships: The Heartbeat of the Church
In our journey of returning to church, we'll delve into the significance of building relationships within the church community. Imagine the church as a body, with each member playing a unique and vital role. In the same way that an active, healthy body thrives, an engaged church body pulsates with vibrancy and life.
Just as every part of our body serves a purpose, each member of the church contributes to its overall well-being. We'll explore the beautiful analogy of how the body's various parts work together, just as different members of the church come together to fulfill God's purpose.
Returning to church isn't merely about attending services; it's about actively participating in the life of the community, forming bonds of friendship, and supporting one another in our spiritual journeys. Together, we create a thriving and dynamic church family, reflecting God's love and unity.
A - Awakening Spirituality:
Theres so many personal experiences or testimonials of individuals who rediscovered their spiritual growth and reconnected with God upon returning to church.
We'll also have to emphasize the importance of holiness, citing the fact that seeing God requires holiness.
The Prodigal Son and Spiritual Renewal
The story of the Prodigal Son, as told in Luke 15:11-32, beautifully illustrates the theme of returning and experiencing spiritual renewal. It reminds us that, just like the Prodigal Son, we can return to our loving Heavenly Father and find restoration, forgiveness, and a renewed sense of purpose.
The Marvelous Doctrine of Election
In the journey of faith, we encounter the profound doctrine of election. While it may seem complex and has puzzled many, it's a truth that underlines our salvation. As believers, we can find comfort in knowing that our salvation begins with God's choice, not our own. As it's written in John 15:16, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." This doctrine reminds us that even when we were lost and far from God, His love pursued us. (See Luke 19:10.)
A seminary professor once said, “Try to explain election and you may lose your mind. But try to explain it away and you may lose your soul!”
Sharing in Spiritual Riches
When Jesus Christ authored His last will and testament for His church, He paved the way for us to partake in His spiritual riches. Instead of depleting His divine wealth, Jesus paid the ultimate price for our salvation through His death on the cross and resurrection. He included us in His will, ensuring that it would be in effect. Furthermore, His resurrection established Him as our heavenly Advocate, guaranteeing that the terms of His will would be faithfully followed.
The Journey of Spiritual Growth
Spiritual growth is akin to a transformational process where we allow the indwelling Christ to increasingly manifest Himself in and through us. This journey results in a greater capacity on our part to bring greater glory to God, be a blessing to others, and advance His kingdom on earth. It's a continuous process of maturing in faith and aligning ourselves with God's purposes.
A Call to Mature
Sometimes, despite the years in our faith journey, we find ourselves spiritually immature, akin to infants. Just as babies struggle with their first steps, we may still grapple with the basics of faith. We might remain seated in the pews, hesitant to move forward. However, God's desire is for us to grow into spiritual maturity, walking confidently in His purpose and power.
This blog series aims to explore these themes further and inspire you on your journey of returning to church, experiencing spiritual renewal, and growing into the fullness of Christ.
C - Commitment and Service: A Call to Active Participation
Returning to church goes beyond attending services; it's an opportunity to engage in meaningful commitment and service within the church community. True fulfillment in our faith journey comes when we actively participate in serving others.
Tommy Tenney aptly captures this sentiment, encouraging us to become vehicles that transport Divinity into a world filled with lost, hurting, and searching souls. When we commit to service, we become instruments of God's love and compassion, bringing hope to those in need.
As we consider our return to church, we must remember the words of Jesus to the Ephesian church in Revelation 2:4-5: "Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works." These words remind us of the importance of reviving our passion for God and His mission.
The apostle Paul, in Romans 12:1-2 (NIV), urges believers: "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."
This transformation begins with a heart willing to serve and be a living sacrifice for God's glory.
Consider your place in the Body of Christ. It's essential to understand that Jesus is returning for an active Body, not one that remains passive or inactive. An inactive body is oppodite to a dying or dead body. While some churches may seem spiritually dormant, those who live in the resurrection power of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revived and refreshed each day as they immerse themselves in the Word.
Our relationship with the Bible should be deep and intense, not superficial or mere acting. It commenced when you surrendered your life to Jesus, and it should continue as an ongoing journey of learning, growing, and occupying the spiritual land God has prepared for you.
This commitment to service, coupled with a renewed passion for Christ, will make your return to church a transformative and impactful experience. It's not just about attending services but actively contributing to the Kingdom and fulfilling God's purpose for your life.
K - Kingdom Impact: Beyond the Local Congregation
Returning to church, symbolized as "Back2Church," extends beyond our local congregation. It's about rekindling our commitment to make a positive impact on the broader community and advancing God's kingdom.
In Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV), we encounter the Great Commission, a clarion call for all believers: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."
This divine mandate reminds us that our mission transcends the walls of our church buildings.
"Back2Church" doesn't imply that we haven't been present before. Instead, it invites us to see the bigger picture of our faith journey. It's about elevation—an ascent that broadens our perspective. Just as standing taller allows us to see farther, returning to our spiritual roots empowers us to perceive the wider scope of God's Kingdom.
Throughout history, there has been an ongoing struggle to connect the concept of the church with that of the kingdom. While the church represents an essential part of God's kingdom, it's vital to recognize that the kingdom isn't limited to the church alone. Long before Christ Jesus established the church, the kingdom of God existed. Initially, the kingdom was confined to a chosen people or nation—Israel. God dwelt among His chosen people, often referred to as a small and humble nation. Jeremiah even likened them to a "little worm."
However, with the arrival of Christ, the boundaries of the kingdom expanded beyond Israel to encompass all of humanity. God's kingdom now reaches every corner of the earth, and we, as followers of Christ, are entrusted with the task of bringing His kingdom values, love, and grace to the world.
As we return to church, let's not only reconnect with our local congregation but also embrace our role as ambassadors of God's kingdom. Our impact isn't confined to the pews; it extends to our communities, workplaces, and the ends of the earth. Together, we can be agents of transformation, advancing the glorious kingdom of our Savior, Jesus Christ.