And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church… (Mt. 16:18)
I’m tremendously grateful for the church. I’m grateful for its worship and fellowship; its ministry to needy people; and its service to the world. I’m grateful for the many times the church has given care and solace to my family. And I’m grateful to the church for the ministry and leadership it called me into for many years.
Like every institution the church can sometimes falls short, makes mistakes, and gets distracted. Because human beings lead the church, it will sometimes “miss the mark” on what Jesus wants the church to do and to be.
One of the greatest mistakes the church can fall into is when it forgets that it isn’t, finally, meant to be in the church business. The church must always remember that it’s called to be in the Kingdom business. When the church remembers that it’s ultimate purpose is to build and extend the Kingdom of God, I’m all in.
When the church thinks that it’s primarily in the church business it can turn into an institution that becomes overly committed to taking care of itself. When churches settle into being institutions, unfortunate things happen.
They become safe, whereas Jesus was risky. They worry about making everyone happy, whereas Jesus upset people to bring them to God. They avoid rocking the boat, whereas Jesus headed into turbulent waters to save the drowning. They focus more on getting people to church, rather than sending the church out to change the world.
I encourage us to be grateful to and for the church. It’s there to support, guide, lead, and bless us. I also encourage us to remember that the ultimate purpose of the church isn’t the church but the Kingdom of God.
When the church becomes more institutional-focused than mission-driven, I encourage us to call upon the church to repent, that is, to turn back to the intentions that Jesus had when he created it, and that’s to build and extend God’s Ways, God’s Justice, God’s Purposes, God’s Love, God’s Mercy, and God’s Peace.
- How do you respond to my distinguishing church business and Kingdom business?
- Have you ever been part of a church that became more inwardly focused than mission-driven? If so, what was that like for you? Were you comfortable, or did you try to change things?
- When you think about the church, what are you grateful for, and what do you think needs to change?