Looking for a church? pt1

How many times have you heard someone make that statement? How many times have you invited them to worship only to hear them try to explain why the church of Christ doesn’t fit in with their expectations?
 
Yeah, me too. Many times, you’ll see people post on social media groups about seeking a church.
 
They will also list the criterion by which they will choose a church. Things like; Daycare, children’s & single’s programs. One person said to me, “I didn’t join my church because of their food & carnivals, but I would join one without them.”
 
How can we answer our neighbors better? We can help them find THE church,

but we have to be ready to give them an answer. Let’s prepare ourselves to answer such requests in a kind, loving and scriptural way. Before we can show them what the bible says, we need to see if they’re willing to have a conversation about what the bible says. Many have never heard what you know about what the bible says about the Lord’s church. Many only have a denominational understanding.
 
If you get to have the conversation, the first thing that might help is to show them what the church is NOT.
 
First, it is not a DENOMINATION. It’s not even non-denominational. The church that Christ built is UN-DENOMINATIONAL. “Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” (1Cor 1:12-13)
 
Second, the church is not an EDIFICE, a building, nor a place. The church of the bible is a People. The church is spoken of as if it’s a building, (eg; “Let’s go to church.”). John wrote to people not a building; “I wrote unto the church:” (3John 1:9; cf Phm 1:2; Col 1:24; 4:15). People are the church (Heb 3:6; 1Co 3:16)
 
Third, the church is not the Lord’s church just because of a NAME. Talking about the church as a name contributes to the denominational concept. The phrase, “church of Christ” denotes ownership. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:28). There are many buildings with a sign on front that says, “the church of Christ,” but that doesn’t make it so. There are identifying marks that will tell us if it’s the church that the Lord bought. The church at Ephesus was in danger of having their candlestick removed unless they repent. (Rev 2:1-5)
 
I know this point confuses many. We all recognize that many denominations wear man made NAMES and wear the NAME of their founders. (eg. Lutheran). The New Testament uses many identifying phrases; (often including location)
·       My church; Matt 16:18
·       church of the Lord, church of God; Acts 20:28; 1Cor 1:2
·       The body, The church; Col 1:18; Eph 1:22-23; 5:23; 1Thess 1:1
·       Household of God, church of the living God; Eph 2:19; 1Tim 3:15
·       Church of the Firstborn; Heb 12:23
·       God’s field, God’s building; 1Cor 3:9
·       The Flock; 1Peter 5:3; Acts 20:28
·       Church of Christ; Rom 16:16
 
Fourth, the church is not an ORGANIZATION for general benevolence nor a political action committee. This is one of the main points of confusion. Our culture today believes that the church exists to ease the physical needs of mankind or to raise up a political movement. The primary purpose of the church found in the bible is as a gospel teaching ORGANIZATION. “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” (1Tim 3:15, 5:3-16; cf. Mat 28:18-20; Eph 3:10)
 
Fifthly and finally, the church does not exist for entertainment nor MERRYMAKING purposes. This doesn’t mean one must be sad & unhappy when they worship the Lord. What it does mean is that the church exists for a higher purpose than carnal entertainment. “What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.” (1Cor 11:22).
 
Next week we’ll take a look at what IS the church found in the New Testament.
— spencer

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