As Americans, we are so accustomed to having things our own way that it should come as no surprise that we bring this way of thinking into the church. We tend to approach church attendance and church membership with an eye towards what will most benefit us. When we find a church that seems to meet all of our family’s needs, it’s not long before we begin to refer to it is “my church.”
Now this use of the personal possessive pronoun is not really a problem unless we forget that the church is “His church” as well as ours. For the church is not the steeple, it’s the people. It is the body of Christ of which He is the head and we are the members. So, the church is surely ours, but it is also, first of all, His.
Those who grow to understand this “both/and” thinking, that the church is both Christ’s and ours, begin to approach church differently. Here are a few marks of those with this understanding:
- They bring their worship with them. They come prepared to give their tithes and offerings and to sing His praises and hear His Word. They are “glad” and prepared to go to His house.
- They serve one – attend one. At WCC we offer three Sunday morning services, making it possible to attend one worship service and volunteer during another.
- They arrive early. They don’t want to cause a disruption in the children’s classes or the adult worship, so they arrive early to worship and/or to serve in their respective ministries.
- They leave the best parking for guests. They don’t park near the front door for their own convenience. Rather, they leave the best parking for guests.
- They check their children into the Reel Deal and Nursery. They are aware that the children’s services are designed for children from the crib to the 5th grade. They are also aware that bringing children into the adult worship can be a distraction. They would never want to cause a seeker or guest to miss hearing the gospel because of a crying baby or disruptive toddler.
- They take the seats down front. They want to encourage the worship band and the pastor, so they fill in the seats down front. They also want to be as close to the action as possible because they are enthusiastic for worship. (Exception: unless they have to leave early to serve in VIP or other ministries, then they sit in the back to avoid disruption.)
- They leave the back seats for guests. They recognize that first-timers may feel nervous when they are looking for seats, so they leave the back seats for them. Members should find seats near the front and be willing to fill in the rows without taking all the aisle seats. They would never think of crawling under or taking down the back seat ropes.
- They turn off their cell phones. They are careful to avoid disruptions, especially during the sermon.
- They follow the “3-Minute Rule.” After the worship service, they spend at least the first 3 minutes talking to someone they don’t know before hanging out with their usual friends. They want our guests to feel welcome.
- They make an effort to talk to our Hispanic members. They overcome the language and cultural barrier between our English and Spanish speaking members by reaching out to one another.
- They always thank our volunteers. When they pick up their children from the nursery and Reel Deal they always thank them for taking care of their kids. They are thankful to our ushers, greeters, coffee shop workers, etc. They want their fellow WCCers to feel encouraged.
- They hang out before leaving. They spend a little time in the foyer greeting others before rushing away.
- They have a “Kingdom-focus” rather than a “me-focus.” They do not think of what the church should be doing to serve them better. Instead, they are constantly aware that they are the church and that they want to see God’s kingdom come, rather than their own.
These are a few of the marks of those who recognize the tension between “my church” vs. “His church” thinking. The beauty for those who put “His church” thinking first is that their own needs are not left unmet. In fact, focusing on His kingdom ahead of ours, we discover that our own needs are met along the way.
Can you think of other marks of those who recognize the church as “His” church first?