Questioning the Church - Acts 4:32-35
32Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. 33With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. 35They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
Acts 4 (NRSV)
There is an interesting article circulating the interwebular world right now. It’s entitled, “4 Questions to Ask before Joining a Church.” If you have time you can read it here (it’s quite short) and a rebuttal here. If you don’t have time to read it, here are the four questions:
1. Is this a church where my family will regularly be fed by God’s word?
2. Is this a church where I’m convinced the care of my soul will be a priority?
3. Is this a church where my family will experience meaningful Christian fellowship and accountability?
4. Is this a church where I can serve God’s people and use my gifts for its benefit?
Perhaps even more intriguing is the “conversation” that’s unfolding in the comments section. People are waging a holy social media war. The vitriol is centered around whether these are the questions for church seekers to ask. It’s not that the questions themselves are, well, in question. There’s a deeper sentiment driving the spirited debate: the very nature of the Church.
It seems to me that what questions we would ask ourselves were we looking for a church, gives us a pretty clear idea of who we think the Church is. This article seems to propose that the Church is a caretaker of souls, charged with giving members a spiritual diet, care, community, discipline, and a place to be integrated. The tone suggests that these are things the congregational leadership must provide to you and I. I guess I ask you, is that the Church? A sort of highly organized vending machine—don’t get me wrong these are great “products,” but should I just simply have to press a button and let the machine deliver me with my desired package? That’s as far as I’ll let my criticism go.
|Oh, how I make myself laugh.|
The place I want to get is: What would be your four most important questions? Seriously, write your four most important questions in the comment section below. I’d love to see who we think the Church is.
I’ll start: to me the Church is a collective of Christ-followers, a body if you will, that exudes the bright character (spirit) of Christ into our dark world. It’s an organism, growing, changing, hurting, hoping, healing, dying, living, loving, losing, sharing, providing, proclaiming, suffering, sacrificing. If that’s my definition, what should my questions be?
1. Is this a group trying to live like Christ together?
2. Is this a group sacrificing in order to meet physical, emotional, and spiritual needs?
3. Is this a group not content to contain Christ within its walls?
4. Is this a group who will attempt to really see, really hear, really know, and really love me in spite of my brokenness? By extension, is the group striving to greet people from varying social, economic, theological, ethnic, and political backgrounds with the same attitude of love and value I desire for myself?
I know, I snuck five questions in there. I’ll probably come up with more as soon as I press, “post.” What do you think?