People often say, “I don’t have to go to Church to be a good Christian,” and they’re absolutely right. Being a “good Christian,” by which I mean being someone whose life actually demonstrates the difference that following Jesus makes, is not about attendance. It’s a about participation.
The Church isn’t a place where people go to watch some kind of religious performance, at least it’s not supposed to be. The Church is the community of those who actively follow Jesus and who participate in the mission that he has given to his followers (We’ll get to what that mission is in a moment). So, while church attendance may be optional for followers of Jesus, active participation is not.
The mission of the Church is to make the reality, goodness, and love of God known in the world and to invite people into a new and growing relationship with God through Jesus Christ. That’s the mission, and with it are the ministries we perform to serve that mission.
The word ‘ministry’ literally means ‘service.’ The ministry of worship, for example, serves the mission, so do prayer, proclamation and gathering as a community of Jesus followers. When done faithfully these ministries help demonstrate the reality, goodness and love of God and present an opportunity for people to start a new and growing relationship with him. Other important ministries include outreach and service to our neighbours, pursuing peace and justice and caring for creation. These are all ministries because they serve the mission.
Regularly gathering with other Christians to actively worship, pray and hear God’s word is ministry, because doing these things serves the mission. Merely attending church, however, isn’t because it doesn’t. This week we are going to look at Jesus’ call to move people from attendance to ministry and how our “7 Steps” might just help us do that.