5. To Perform
Occasionally I will notice I’m going off to the gathering to perform. I’m going to go preach, or teach, or guide the children’s ministry.
I feel like other people can get into this rut too. I’m going to sing, play guitar, be cool, whatever (BTW, I haven’t played the guitar in 20 years). We’re getting a buzz from performing. Something subtle occurs and it’s about my self-accolades. I feel better about myself after doing something for God.
I suggest, if this is happening, don’t go to the gathering. Shrink back. All our service in the gifts and to the world should be out of our life with God. It should be an offering unto Him out of the gifts He keeps giving.
Of course, we need affirmation in order to recognize what God is doing and calling us to. But that’s a different dynamic. After I preach a sermon, I discipline myself to leave that sermon in God’s hands. I offered it to Him. If and when I receive feedback, it is for the furtherance of His work in my life and the community.
6. To Get Something From the Expert
If we go to church to get something on the Christian life from the expert in a sermon or something, I think we miss the point and are going to church for the wrong reasons. The so-called expert is most likely gifted to proclaim. He/she has been recognized for God’s work in this regard in his/her life.
But the real formation happens in the response and the working out of that proclamation among a people. The expert, on his own, often disappoints, or worse starts acting like he/she is the only one who knows Scripture, which breeds distrust of any authority in the community. The thought process of getting something from an expert defeats God’s work in community and should be discouraged. Don’t “go to church” if this is the way you think it works.
Over against these reasons not to “go to church,” I still believe the church gathering is just a part—albeit an important part—of the rhythm of Mission.
For it is at the gathering we come as broken people in order to submit ourselves to what He is doing to be shaped for Mission. Here we are led into His presence, the reading of Scripture, the liturgies of submission, affirmation of truth and confession, the proclamation of the Gospel and the feasting on His forgiveness and new life at the meal, in praise and thanksgiving, and finally into the sending out into Mission.
Can you think of any more reasons “not to go to church” that might actually prevent church from becoming a part of a Missional rhythm for a people of God?