Most churches seem to have their members on a short leash. Think about it, while most churches “teach” that the members need to go out and witness to others, they have everyone shackled and busy inside the church. Who are considered the most faithful people in the church? Usually they are the ones who commit the most time serving and ministering inside the church. Shoot, there is Sunday service, and of course if you are good you also attend communion and Sunday School. Most churches have a wednesday night bible study at their church. Of course, if you are really serious you will give up your time and serve on some committee, comission, church board, or meeting once a week. Don’t forget rehearsal for the choir, worship teams, band, drama, etc. Then we got our fellowships for the men, for the women, for the young adults, for the youth. We also got singles stuff and stuff for married folks too. If you are a “faithful” church member, then you are lucky to have even a few evenings home with the family. At the end of each week, surprisingly we find no time to reach, serve, and love neighbors and strangers in our community. (I don’t blame the members, I blame us leaders for this problem).
This doesn’t seem to be what is going on in the New Testament. And please, don’t get me wrong I am not saying that all those things are inherently wrong. However, I believe the primary role of the church is to equip and unleash the Church for mission locally, regionally, and globally. And when I say that I am not thinking primarily of evangelism events and missions programs. What I mean is that the Church ought to be released to go out and interact and engage the community naturally as God’s people. Whether individually or collectively we are to be the voice, hands, and feet of Jesus in our community.
For the neighborhood I live in I imagine people spending time with neigbors on the block or on the corner. I imagine Christians out at the basketball courts hanging out, or choppin it up about current events in the barbershop. I see christians having their favorite local bar where everyone knows their name and where they are building relationships with people that most church members would never encounter regularly. This can never happen if we are on a tight leash spending most of our time keeping church programs afloat. More than ever I think it is time for the church to disciple and equip its people in sacrificially minded community (opposed to consumer minded communities) so that it may be unleashed to bear witness to Christ to a world that needs it.