OUT OF BUSINESS
By Keith Giles
It's time the Church went out of business. Close down the bank account, lay off the pastoral staff, cancel the utilities, sell the building, auction off the sound system and the digital projector and turn out the lights. The Church needs to get out of the business of being in business because it was never intended by its founder to be run like a business in the first place.
The Church as Jesus imagined it has always been a living organism, not a soul-less organization employing a team of spiritual experts. The Church that Jesus died to give birth to isn't a business, it's a family of equals who all love one another in a way the world can only dream of.
If acting like a business prevents us from being the Family God intended, let us joyfully put ourselves out of business and learn what it means to be the Body of Christ in our community. If operating as an organization holds us back from spending time with the neighbors we are commanded to love, then let us resign our pastoral positions and refuse our stipends so that we can share the vibrant love of Jesus with the people living in darkness right next door to us.
Instead of hiring accountants to handle our books, let us join our hands together and walk outside where Jesus always intended His Church to thrive - among the everyday people, the ordinary citizens, the sinners who would never feel at home in our temples.
Instead of investing in retirement plans for pastors, let us get down on our knees and wipe the dirt from the faces of the impoverished children who live in our very own cities, just a few miles from our own doorstep, and let us love them as Jesus would have loved them.
Instead of raising millions of dollars to buy a larger building with giant flat-panel television screens in the rotunda, let us give of ourselves, our time, our talent, our energy, our passion and our very best in order to bring the Kingdom of God to a world that so desperately needs hope.
It's time for the Church to go out of business.
I quit playing Church. I quit going through the motions. I quit pretending to have it all together. I quit the status quo. I quit denominationalism. I quit trying to convert people. I quit.
I begin to be the Church. I begin to take up my cross daily. I begin to relate to humans as another human being. I begin to practice my faith. I begin to put the words of Jesus into practice. I begin learning to love people. I begin.
Let the religious professionals have their tax exemptions and their weekly pastor's lunch meetings and their salaries if that's what they want, but I will not contribute to any of that any longer. I will invest in the lives of the broken, the forgotten and the hungry who live in my community, even in my own Church family. I will work with my hands to support my family. I will treat human beings as human beings, regardless of their denomination, or faith, or lack thereof.
I WILL SURRENDER
I will surrender my need to be entertained and embrace the uncomfortable silence. I will surrender my comfortable chair and exchange it for a few hours on my knees in prayer for a friend who is dying from cancer. I will surrender my need for a tax write-off and freely share what I have been given with the stranger on the street corner and the family in the motel. I will surrender.
It's time the Church started living like the people of God. It's time the Church started learning what it means to follow Jesus, and how to help others do the same. It's time for the Church to go out of the business of being in business.
Turn that building in to a home for forgotten seniors, or a sanctuary for children dying of cancer or AIDs. Break apart the asphalt parking lot and plow it under to grow affordable food for the families living in poverty downtown. Find a way to use that resource for God's Kingdom and for the people He loves enough to die for instead of allowing it to sit empty between services.
Part of what Jesus was doing on the cross was to provide a quality of life for those who would follow after Him. That quality of life is connected to His vision for His Church.
He died to create a people who would stop meeting in temples in order to be the Temple of God.
He died to create a people who would stop submitting to the man-made authority of an Earthly priest in order to become members of the Priesthood of Believers.
He died to create a people who would stop offering a sacrifice for their sin and start living as sacrifices for the good of others - as loving servants who act as Ambassadors of Christ and His Kingdom.
Why would you trade God's vision of Church for the "sermon and a song" we've made it out to be?
Let the Church get out of the business of being a business and let the Church start being the Church that Jesus intended us to be.