In recent discussions that some of us have been having about how we arrange the interior of our church, it’s been helpful to ask the prior question: ‘Why do we have church?’ I’m a creature of habit and end up doing things just because that’s the way I do them – I don’t think about why I put the grapes in the fridge rather than the fruit bowl, it’s just what I do.
When it comes to church, it’s important for each of us to reflect on what part church plays in our life, and how we make the most of it. Otherwise we just end up in the rut of a habit and potentially miss out on all God wants for us in being part of his family. I’ve been interested to see the range of perspectives given when I’ve asked the question ‘Why church?’
Christmas time is a particularly interesting time to chew this bone. Is church at Christmas specifically for Christians to celebrate? Or should it accommodate itself to those on the fringes of Christianity, who perhaps have no clear idea of what Christmas is really about, but they like to sing carols?
I guess most of us would say, ‘Well, it’s both really,’ and if that’s the case, the challenge becomes how to meld those two agendas. Such an example is a microcosm of the broader calling Jesus gave his church to serve and encourage one another, as well as be a witness to a lost world.
Hebrews 10:25 tells us to not neglect to meet together, but to think about how we can ‘stir one another up to love and good deeds, encouraging one another’ as we meet, and to do it ‘all the more as the day of Christ’s return nears’. Which is perhaps the most succinct answer to the question ‘Why Church?’ that we have.
The reminder of Jesus’ return is a very relevant message to both regular members and visitors. So, this Christmas, may God grant we don’t ‘church’ simply out of habit, but that we make the most of the opportunities as we gather to encourage regulars and visitors with the great hope Jesus has given us.