If Church Isn’t Necessary, Let’s Quit

But is that really an option? Well, no it’s not.

Why? Because I’m convinced if it’s not necessary it’s too difficult and not worth my time. Listening to sermons is hard and it’s not really my learning style. So, let’s quit. Singing is outdated and the thought of someone hearing me slightly off key or out of tune is unbearable. Let’s quit. Praying together is boring and I’m too easily distracted. Let’s quit. I have my own friends and family and people at church can be hard to get along with. Let’s quit. It’s also too time consuming. Saturday nights are too fun and I could function better on Monday if I could get a couple extra hours of sleep. Let’s quit. Besides, my schedule is too demanding with my weekly workload, studying and homework, sports games, and an unending shopping list. Let’s quit.

 

Here’s a proposition for the new year. I propose that if church isn’t necessary, we quit. I mean it. If it’s not necessary let’s cancel all of our services, board up the windows, lock the doors, and send everyone on their merry way. Sure, Christians have been gathering together to hear the Word read and preached, to sing with grace in their hearts, and observe the sacraments for over two thousand years. But if it’s not necessary let’s be the first generation to finally end the practice. Let’s silence the pulpit, close up the song books, dry up the baptismal waters, and put away the bread and wine. If church isn’t necessary, let’s quit.

Why? Because I’m convinced if it’s not necessary it’s too difficult and not worth my time. Listening to sermons is hard and it’s not really my learning style. So, let’s quit. Singing is outdated and the thought of someone hearing me slightly off key or out of tune is unbearable. Let’s quit. Praying together is boring and I’m too easily distracted. Let’s quit. I have my own friends and family and people at church can be hard to get along with. Let’s quit. It’s also too time consuming. Saturday nights are too fun and I could function better on Monday if I could get a couple extra hours of sleep. Let’s quit. Besides, my schedule is too demanding with my weekly workload, studying and homework, sports games, and an unending shopping list. Let’s quit. And, to be honest, there’s many times I don’t feel like going. It’s all hustle and bustle from the moment the alarm goes off to getting the kids ready and into the car. So, let’s quit! I really am serious. That’s my proposal for the new year. If church isn’t absolutely necessary, let’s quit.

But is that really an option? Well, no it’s not. Let me explain. There’s a lot of confusion today as to what the “church” is. Often people will say the church is a body to which every believer belongs. That is true. The body metaphor was one of the Apostle Paul’s favorite pictures of the church: “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27, see also Romans 12:4-5). But the church isn’t simply some undefined or invisible body. Rather, according to the Bible, it has a visible and outward organization. It has rules (1 Timothy 2:8-15, 1 Corinthians 11-14, and Titus 2), it has leadership (Matthew 16:19, Acts 6:1-7, 14:23, Ephesians 4:11, Hebrews 13:17), it has recognized preachers (Romans 10:15, 1 Timothy 5:17), it has a defined membership (Acts 2:41, Romans 16:3-16), it needs to compensate its teachers (1 Timothy 5:18), and it has discipline for those who need correction (Matthew 18:15-20, 1 Corinthians 5:1-12). None of that would be possible if the church was only an invisible body and not also an organization.

And it was to this organized or visible church that Jesus gave the ministry of gathering and perfecting the saints.

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