When we approach the church, we are going to look at it in one of two ways. The way you view your local church will determine how you feel about it. Those two ways are: an organization or a family. Let me share with you the particular outcome from each view, starting with the organizational view.
If you hold the organizational view, then your choice of church to attend will be more or less systematic. When you are looking for a church to join, you will first visit and check out the facilities. Is this a nice building that has been built recently or recently renovated? Are the facilities user friendly?
The second thing you will check out is worship service. Does this church use a hymnal or do they use technology? Does this church sing older hymns or contemporary songs (piano or guitar)? Does the preacher preach in a style I like, is he good at what he does? Is the service casual or formal (jeans or a suit)?
The third thing you will check out are programs. What does this church have for me, and what does it have for my children? Does it have a big kids program, a nice youth group, a busy senior adult program? Does it have a men’s ministry and women’s ministry? Can I find something I like to get involved in?
Now these are some very thoughtful criteria, but there is a problem: they aren’t biblical. In fact, none of the above mentioned qualifications can be in any way drawn out of Scripture. The reason is because the Bible does not view the church as an organization. It views the local church as a family.
Think about that for a moment and let’s see how this fits:
The bible never speaks of a church in terms of property, facilities or programs, but it always speaks of the church in term of people. The redeemed in Christ are the church, even if they happen to meet in a particular building. The building is not the church
Second, New Testament believers referred to themselves as “brothers and sisters”. In fact, this new way of speaking was unsettling in the first century for those who did not understand the church. How could two people who are not related call each other family? Only because of the cross are these new family relationships possible.
So if the church is a family, we will look for a church with a different set of criteria:
Is this a local body of believers who are trying to walk with the Lord that I can join to walk with them?
Can they help me in my walk and my family’s walk as I help them in theirs?
Can I serve them as brothers and sisters in Christ?
Does this make more sense? It should, it is biblical. When we view the church as an organization, it will only be a matter of time until we find a problem with the structure or the organization. We will get disgruntled and find a good (translation=unbiblical) reason to leave to find a better organization. We’ll treat the local church like a paid television provider: we’re happy until something better comes along.
But if we see the church as a family, we will plant our lives together. we will love together, serve together and forgive, together.
So are you organizational focused or family focused?