Not too long ago, a host pastor asked me if he could do “such-and-such” during a worship service in which I had a part. “You can do what you want; it’s your church,” I replied. He shot back, “No, actually, it’s God’s church.”
He didn’t say it in a flippant or punitive tone, but with a conviction that was held up by a rock-solid foundation.
How often have you said, “my church?” Of course, we all do. We might say, “My church is First Downtown” or “I love my church.” That’s not a great sin. It’s one thing to say it for sake of convenience, but it’s quite another to mean it as a matter of pride or possession. For example, I’ve heard these kinds of comments over the years:
“Preacher, long after you’re gone, this will still be my church.”
“I don’t know what’s happening to my little church. Seems like new people are coming in every week.”
“I’m the pastor here. I’m in charge.”
“I am so glad that my church doesn’t…” (Insert pet peeve here, such as raising hands in worship, traditional hymns, weekly Communion, etc).
Of course, all believers have partnership in the church. But we dilute its power and undercut its mission when we pretend to be senior partners, or even equal partners, with Christ. “And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy” (Col 1:18).
The church is not a club to meet your personal needs and private preferences. It is an army under orders of a Supreme Commander, who told us to go and make disciples (Matt 28:19). Are we? Is shaping disciples to follow Jesus our burning purpose, our heart’s focus, the center of all we do?
Your church? Hardly. My church? Nope. The church belongs to no one less than Jesus Christ, who came to seek and save the lost. If we treat the church as our personal spiritual playground, woe unto us–and how sad for a world that desperately needs the ministry of its Lord and Leader.