We the Church

There is a component to church health that we don’t talk about enough.  When we talk about church health we think systems, discipleship/ outreach, vision/ mission, revitalization strategies and so on.  This is all good but something seems to be missing. Or maybe it’s just assumed, but if we assume it and don’t say it, we run the risk of forgetting that it matters.

One of the key ingredients in the development and maintenance of church health is you and me (this is not a scolding but a reminder that I need too).  You and me. We are the church. The church is not a building or a program. The church is you and me.

So when we say “the church should” we are actually saying “we should” or more specifically “I should.”.  “The church ought to or needs to” is actually “I ought to or I need to.” I understand we probably mean “Somebody else should” but…you and me we are the church so we need to include ourselves in all those statements.

It’s so easy isn’t it?  To fold our arms and stand back and say “Somebody ought to…”  It’s so easy to be critical from the sidelines. It’s harder to step in and be part of a solution, but that is what we are called to do.  I’ll use myself as an example here.I have caught myself nodding along when we talk about the need to be friendlier or more welcoming as a congregation.  “Indeed,” I think. “We do need to be friendlier.” And then I go stand in the corner and wait for everyone else to come and be friendly. Then I get critical when nobody is.  Ooops! Or I can talk with a great deal of passion about how nobody opens their homes any more and practices hospitality or engages in fellowship. Then I can sit in my living room thinking bad things about everyone who isn’t inviting me over.  You get the idea.

What if, instead of “they should” or “somebody ought to” or “nobody does”, we started with “I will”.  I will: welcome, include, invite, mentor, disciple, work towards healing, work towards unity, pursue reconciliation, love, serve, forgive, take the first step, open my home, share my stuff, etc. Feel free to add to this list the stuff you have been folding your arms and shaking your head about.

What if we did all this stuff – you and me.  What if we acted like the church we want to be.  I imagine we would be too busy (in a good way) to worry about what everyone else wasn’t doing.  I also imagine the church would be getting healthier. Things would get better.

So church (you and me), let me encourage us to play the part we were created to play when it comes to church health.  Let’s step in to being part of the solution our Heavenly Father wants instead of settling for pointing out the problems.  Let’s figure out what “I” should do instead of wasting energy on fuming about what “they” ought to do. We, the church, will be better for it.  Just a thought.

Marc McAlister

Director of Leadership Development

Free Methodist Church in Canada.