...what is it about having something sanctioned by the church that makes it seem more important, more holy, more official? Is it simply something that people have been brought up to think? A group of co-workers meeting for prayer during lunch is great, but it’s not quite the same thing as a prayer meeting at church. A few friends gathering to study the Bible is awesome, but wouldn’t it be even better if it was a church sponsored “Bible Fellowship Club Meeting”? You’re taking some food to a family in need? That’s amazing! But, why not take part in the church’s benevolence program? The committee meets every fourth Tuesday.
Interesting, isn't it? It reflects the importance we place on labels—and how important it is to examine those labels to see if they are accurate!
And, in a guest post on Alan's blog, Chris muses
We work hard to put together friendly events like Fall Festivals and I hear people say things like “if we can just get them on the campus…” While I think it’s nice to do things for the community, I don’t think that if a non-Christian just steps foot on campus, they’ll suddenly meet God in a way that they can’t off campus. I think there’s also the idea that if people come to our worship event, they’ll be ministered to by “professional” ministers, and that this is more effective.
We continue to inadvertently teach, through our methodology, that 1) God is most present here at the Church building, 2) God is MORE present when our productions are better planned, polished, and executed, 3) You’re being most Christian when you attend an event on a church campus, and 4) “real” ministry is carried out by the full time church employees.
Because we believe that the organization and its few leaders carry out the most effective ministry at the organization’s events, there’s a focus on bringing people in rather than on equipping people and sending them out. Evangelism has come to mean “inviting people to a worship gathering.”
We continue to do all of these things in spite of the fact that we KNOW that what we’re doing isn’t creating many new believers or turning believers into more Christlike people.
Mind you, I am not “anti-church”—how can I be? It was God's idea! But, I think we need to rethink what church is and why it exists. If we think it is a building, or something we “go to” once or more a week, I suggest that the New Testament should be re-examined; that certainly isn't what is taught there!