Last night, I was talking with a group of guys about the subject of the American church and what is has become. Most would agree that the "church" as a whole has become very much like a business and a lot less like a community. I say less like a community, because the original followers of Christ were very much a community and very much lived that way.
Honestly, I think there are certain parts of a community that need to function like a business. A community needs to have a leader, a community has to have a common goal, a community needs to be organized, a community needs people. However, when you look at the church as a business people begin to see it either in a consumerist mindset or a sales mindset. They either want something from the church or they want to sell their church to someone else. In reality, a church should be run like a community in which people look after each other, are honest with each other, and strive to strengthen the community not so that it can be sold or so that they can get more, but because it moves them toward the common goal.
The one aspect I wanted to touch on today was the idea of community and being honest with one another. As I was thinking about my own family and how in a since we are our own community. Within that community honesty is important. God calls us to be honest with one another. When you are honest, the struggles in your life will become known to those you are honest with. Once they are known, others can keep you accountable. Once you have others to keep you accountable, you have no justification for failure.
Let me give you an example.
If I struggle with lying and I confess to my wife about my past lies it is going to hurt her. From that point on, however, I will have to earn back her trust an in order to do so, I will have to be accountable to her. If I truly love her, I will be honest with her and choose to tell her the truth as to not hurt her, earn back her trust, and to express my love for her. With that accountability, I cannot fail. If I fail, I am not showing her love and I could ultimately lose her.
I think the same thing goes for our church community. We are called to honest with one another so that we can hold each other accountable. We should judge one another and express our concerns with each other when we see someone we are to keep accountable stumbling. We don't want them to fail, just as we don't want to fail. We want to help everyone to reach that common goal.
I think all too often we get hung up in going and participating in churches that want to look like communities, but people refuse to be a part of one. It's easy to pretend things are great and not worry about telling people who you really are and what you are struggling with. However, just like any other community that can only last so long before all is lost. There really isn't a community anymore...it has all become....a business.....I get what I want and the church sells what it is selling.
I've had this idea for a few years of living in a community with other believers. A community in which, like the early church, people take care of each other, live in close proximity to one another, and invest daily in each other. To live like that, most often you would be called a cult, radical, or weirdos. Wasn't the original church somewhat considered the same thing? Weren't they hunted because they were a "cult" of that day. They were going against what was socially accepted at that time. Maybe.....just maybe....things could be different. Is it too hard to change? Is it possible to change? Can one living in a community like that survive our culture? Has our view of what a church is become so corrupt in our minds that we no long recognize what it really is?