Church Business Or Kingdom Business?
In his book The Home Church, Robert Banks writes (p. 52):
...Paul never retracted his understanding of how the church should operate. He never moved away from his view that the church is a genuine extended family in favor of a less personal, more institutionalized entity. He never suggested that the local church should occupy itself with only one aspect of activities – the alleged “religious” – and only one aspect of the personality – the so-called “spiritual.” He never lessened his belief in mutual ministry and shared authority for one based more on liturgical order and hierarchical leadership.
Banks is right. Much of what we call “church” today actually originated in the post-apostolic period. Today the following significant changes are apparent:
The church of today has gotten itself into deep trouble, and the cause is not difficult to discern. Believers get into trouble whenever they think they are in the church business rather than in the kingdom business. In the church business, people are concerned about church buildings, church programs, church activities. In the kingdom business, people are concerned about kingdom activities.
To take just one example, in America we spend billions of dollars on church buildings to honor the One who said “I dwell not in temples made with human hands” (Acts 7:48). Irony of ironies! Jesus in His own person displaced the cult of the holy place. He taught that worship is open to all who come to God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:21-24). The sacrifice that a Christian offers is the “living sacrifice” of his own person (Rom. 12:1-2). In the New Testament, the language of the temple service is reapplied to the church’s worship, which involves no earthly sanctuary. The church is now the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16-17), a temple not made with human hands.
I have said it before and I will say it again: The great need of contemporary Christianity is to return to biblical faithfulness and to the profound simplicity of the New Testament. The “church” is never a place – it’s always a people. The Book of Acts clearly shows that our elaborate church buildings are necessary neither for numerical growth nor for spiritual depth. And adding a “fellowship hall” will not guarantee genuine koinonia either. If a church building has any significance at all, it can only be practical – simply a place to meet and carry on the essential functions of a church.
So I ask: Are you in the church business or in the kingdom business? Just look at your “church” building!
August 5, 2005
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com. If you would like to know more about becoming a follower of King Jesus, please feel free to write Dave.