Whether you are part of a church or not, most likely you have experienced the subtle message that loyalty to Christ is defined by how much you are participating in congregational activities (worship, small groups, teaching Sunday school, etc). Some people can actually get a little proud of all they’re doing “for the church.” Others get discouraged by how their schedule never seems to cooperate with the rhythms of congregational life. Still others simply don’t see the importance of attending religious events.
It’s interesting reading through the Bible that the main point of Jesus’ message is never a demand for more religious activity. Rather, Jesus again and again called people to see all of life as God’s and to experience Him in every moment. Jesus invited everyone to live life with Him, to play a vital role in what He’s doing, and to do that with other people following Jesus. This is how Jesus defined the church. Church is not somewhere you go. Church is who you are every moment of every day when you follow Jesus.
When we define church as a place or an event, we divide our lives into sacred and secular. We have our “church life” and then our “real life.” And church becomes a check box on our to-do list. But we only have one life. You are who you are. If you follow Jesus, then you represent Him when you gather with other Christians for worship, but you also bear His name when you go to school or work, when you play sports and hang out with friends. If you follow Jesus, you are always the church.
So whether you are part of a church or not, don’t go to church. Don’t settle for a series of religious activities. Rather, listen to Jesus calling you to follow Him every day. He’ll call you to get to know Him personally, to use your gifts for the sake of others and to do that together with other Christians. And to answer that call, it will probably include a weekly gathering with other Christians, but it is so much more. It’s life — all of it. Don’t go to church. Be the church.