What really is the church? Is it a group of people who come together to socialize? Is it a group of people who come together to just sing songs and hear someone speak for 20-50 minutes? What is church? What is THE church?
This is a tough question to tell the truth. I’ve been thinking about this for this Sunday’s message. I’ll be talking about being the proclaiming church. And I’ve been thinking about what it means to be the church.
The church is the Body of Christ here on earth. The church is not just the Body of Jesus but is also a mirror of what God’s coming kingdom will look like. And you might just say that’s all well and good. So what. That ain’t what it’s looking like now. Too many people have dropped the message and emphasized the beat. Some have started churches to reach out to Millennials (ages 20 something to early 30 something). Others have tried to teach goodness and morality instead of the gospel. Others have tried so hard to be relevant that they’ve lost the idea of what it means to be the church itself. It no longer grounds itself in the 2,000 year history of the church.
So what is the church? The church is to be. Church is a verb. It is something that is supposed to be active. It is not to be passive. It is to be moving and growing. It is an organic thing. It’s alive and moving. It is the Body of Jesus living here today empowered by the Holy Spirit.
And as the church, we are sent out. We are sent ones. And the word for that is apostle. Not just that, but being sent means proclaiming. You see, to be sent means that you’re a messenger. Sent ones are messengers. Messengers proclaim. They proclaim news. And as the church, we are messengers of this news.
In 1618 in Dortrect in the Netherlands, a group of Dutchmen got together to talk about what the church is and what it means to be a follower of Jesus. And they said this:
“In order that people may be brought to faith, God mercifully sends proclaimers of this very joyful message.” Cannons of Dort Pt. 1 Art. 3
Paul himself says
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? ANd how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?…faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” Romans 14-15, 17
That word “sent” is here. That word sent also means messenger. A messenger sent to proclaim the word about Jesus. And how can people hear about Jesus unless the people of the church proclaim the message they are sent with.
This is part of what it means to live as the church. Like I said, church is a verb. It moves. It is alive. It is organic. It moves and grows. And the church, the people in the church, the Body of Jesus, is sent as messengers to proclaim the good news, the good word of Jesus.
But is the church doing that today? Are they proclaiming Jesus. Some say yes. Some say that they are. Others say no. That they are just playing church. They are having someone stand up in front and speaking for a while, they sing songs, but then go home and wonder why people are leaving or not visiting.
How can they come through the doors if they don’t hear the message? How can they believe if they haven’t even heard from someone about Him.
The problem is, is that we’re timid people. We’re frightened people. But God’s heart is breaking. His heart is breaking for those who don’t know him, who don’t know His Son Jesus. And our hearts should break for what his heart breaks for.
As a proclaiming church, our heart needs to break for what God’s heart breaks for. And we need to proclaim that joyful message in word and deed. It’s not just by what we say, but by what we do. For you, as a believer in Jesus, you may be the only Bible someone will ever read. Will they read about Jesus and his love?
How can you live as the proclaiming church?