Be The Church

A few months ago we had some tornadoes tear through Florida not too far from here. Among other structures destroyed was Lady Lake Church of God. A TV reporter asked one of the church members where he would worship on Sunday, “since your church has been demolished.”

The man cocked his head sideways and gave the reporter a puzzled look. “Our church wasn’t destroyed,” he explained patiently. “Our church isn’t a building, it’s these people.” He gestured to the crowd of people organizing the debris as he continued, “I imagine we’ll be right here on Sunday, worshipping like we do every week.”

It was a great response, and I wanted to shake that man’s hand.

Sometimes people ask me about the fact that we only “have church” twice a month. Is it biblical? Then there’s the fact that we don’t own a building or land. Someone even asked me, after visiting Access one Sunday evening, “Do you attend a local church?”

“Yes!” I replied, “This one!”

You see, there’s a huge difference between attending church and being the church. And as much as there is a lot that is good and healthy and necessary about attending, it’s much more important to be.

Am I making sense?

Access is young. As churches go, we’re just a baby. But already so many of you get it. You understand that being the church is about being the hands and feet of Jesus in your neighborhood, at your school, in the workplace, and with your family. Being the church means practicing the “one anothers” of the New Testament (love one another, encourage one another, pray for one another, etc.).

In fact, when Jesus prayed for us, the Church, he prayed that we would practice these “one anothers” so effectively that it would be our unity that would speak loudest about our faith. St. Francis of Assisi is credited with saying, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”

Isn’t that crazy? Maybe it’s especially hard for me to grasp because I was taught that as Christians we should influence the world through politics, through public preaching, through hard-core evangelism. But Jesus prayed that we would simply “be one” so that the world would know.

You know I’m headed somewhere, right? And you know I’m going to challenge you to do something. Something hard. Something really out-of-the-comfort-zone difficult. Well, relax.

I’m not going to ask you to go door-to-door.

I’m not going to ask you to make a stand for one of the 16 presidential candidates.

I’m not going to ask you to speak in front of people.

I’m only going to suggest you join a Community Group this fall.

You see, to be effective as a representative of Jesus Christ, you have to be part of a community of believers. Not just attending church, but being the church. And we believe that happens best when a group of people sit in a circle and look each other in the eye. The same group of people, week after week, month after month. Pretty soon you get to know each other, you do life together, and you practice the one-anothers. Strangers become friends become family. And, because of your common goal to be more like Jesus, something amazing happens. Your group becomes a picture of Jesus Christ to other people.

Imagine dozens of groups around Jacksonville this fall. Imagine each one practicing the unity that Jesus prayed for in John 17. And imagine others around you being stirred to ask about this unique connection you share.

What was it Jesus said in his prayer? Oh yeah, “So that the world may know…”

GroupLink is November 4! Contact Ben now to get on the list!