Note: this was originally printed as the lead article in our May/June church newsletter. I thought it deserved a little bit wider play.
At a recent meeting, one of our board members made an interesting comment. “I never want Church to feel like home.”
It seemed almost heretical, at first. But then they explained. “Home is the place where I get comfortable. It’s the place where I kick my shoes off and relax in front of the television, or with a book. Home is the place I go to get away from the stresses of life. When I’m home, I don’t want to be bothered by people or problems. Home is my space.”
The light started to go on in the hearts of those gathered.
“Church should be the opposite. Church is a place where we get to work, where we create space for all sorts of people. Church isn’t a place to get comfortable and relaxed, it’s not a place to get away from it all. Church is about action and service.”
Wow. I wish I’d come up with that. It’s pretty much genius. And it shows a lot of insight into Kingdom values.
When it comes to Christianity, one of the most difficult aspects for us to embrace is the idea that this isn’t about us. That this isn’t about our comfort, our tranquility, our well-being. This Christ-walk that we are on does come with the promise of blessing, of joy and peace and healing and provision. But it is not primarily a call to comfort; it is instead a call to a task. To a mission.
It is a call to serve the world. This is a fact we must never forget. We have been saved by God, filled by his Holy Spirit, and created together to be the Church, His presence on earth. But just as quickly, we are called and commissioned to serve Him by serving the World.
In other words, Lakebay Community Church doesn’t exist primarily for you and me (technically speaking, it exists AS you and me). It exists for those people out there who don’t yet know the joy of salvation in Christ. Yes, the church exists to glorify God. Yes, many in the church have gifts that are used for the good of the Body – gifts like prayer and encouragement. But all of these exist so that we can serve Christ by serving the world (go read Ephesians 2:10, paying special attention to that part about the good works God has prepared for us to do).
It is all too often the case that, when we start talking about the future direction of the church, or the current worship, or the paint scheme, we use too much “me” language. As in, “this isn’t convenient for me.” Or “this isn’t comfortable for me.” Or “I don’t really like that” or “this isn’t what I want.”
I hear you. I understand you. I’m just as tempted to think about my comfort, my preferences, the ease of my service here. I would love to come and be well-fed, sitting in my barcalounger singing Maranatha! hits from the 1980s. I’d love to take in all the blessings and simply forget about the hard work ‘out there.’ But we can’t. The church isn’t our home. It’s a mission station. Or, to be precise, it’s a people on a mission to seek and to serve and to share the love of Christ.
The good news is, all those blessings still come to us as we serve. Lakebay can be, and is, a home for many. It is a place of comfort and blessing, a place where joy can be felt and peace can be found. It is a place of respite for weary saints and sinners. It is a place where we meet our God.
But we must never confuse all these blessings with our primary identity, we must never grasp after these blessings as if they are the Main Thing. And we must never allow our desire for comfort to be the primary guide in our decision making. We want God to bless us; we desire God’s blessing on Lakebay; we must then be about the business of serving him by serving those around us, giving up our own wants, wishes, and desires. We can’t kick up our feet and relax. Instead, let’s get busy serving the world around us.