A lot of Nik Ripken’s stories involve house churches for believers in countries not allowed to meet at a physical building.
Too often, especially here in the Bible Belt of the U.S., put too much emphasis on the church building, church politics, and really trivial things. Sure, some things are important to a church building like paying the bills. But a lot of times these things get put before actually being the Church. For purposes of this post, Church refers to the body of believers and church (little c) refers to the physical building.
Many people turn away from the physical church because of this sort of thing and other hypocrisies. Hypocrisies like teaching the love of Christ but not actually showing it.
I’m not saying all churches are like this, but I mean, it is true for some groups. And I’m not condemning them. I would like to use the stories of this book to encourage them.
I’ve seen too many people leave the church and too many churches split completely over stupid, stupid things. And the entire problem is a lack of love. God is love and therefore His church should be.
Ripken writes about networks of house churches in East Asia that don’t have buildings to meet in. But he says, “They certainly knew what it meant to love and look after the concerns and needs of their members. They knew what it meant to be the Church for one another.”
So church, I encourage you to be the Church.
Put the focus in your congregations back on the Gospel and back on extending love to your members and the community around you.
I loved my physical church from home, and then we were split apart. I no longer have a church that I call home with members that I call family.
It honestly breaks my heart. I have a great church when I’m at university with a lot of friends. But on weekends and school breaks? Well, I go to my mom’s church. With the people she knows. They’re really great, don’t get me wrong. But they don’t know me like my old congregation I spent twenty years in, and because I no longer live in my hometown, they probably never will.
And the whole thing was a sin problem and a lack of love for the congregation. Other things I consider trivial were at the forefront and the needs of members were neglected.
I’m not blaming anyone. I still love my old physical church. I’m not bitter, just kind of sad.
Sad because this is true in so many congregations and we are all human and I will never expect the physical church to be perfect. We can’t be, which is why we need Christ. But we really can try to be the Church for one another.
Look after each other, care for one another, really listen to the problems and triumphs in the lives of your fellow Church members, and never forget to extend the love that God extends to you.
Read posts one through three of The Insanity of God series here.