Preface: I am not at all speaking to cultural Christians in this post. By cultural Christians I mean people who go to church every Sunday because they feel it is their duty and that’s the way they always have. Cultural Christians are fine with the status quo.
Big C Church = Christ-followers everywhere
Little c church = community of Christ-followers regularly meeting together
Go and make church-goers of all nations.
Go and help others of all nations.
Somehow, the Body of Christ has got stuck in the middle of these two quasi-biblical sentiments. The older generation bemoans the lack of drawing others inside the church. We young folk cry out that everyone is missing the point: that above all else the church is called to minister to others as Jesus did.
The disunity is more than fingernails across a chalkboard. It’s splitting us apart, forming the Great Wall of China between generations that, if they joined together, would become an unstoppable force of love. My heart aches from the fact that Satan is using our own team against us. It’s like we’re tackling each other on the football field instead of the opposing team.
Now let me make this clear. I am part of the problem. I am one of those people paradoxically throwing a love tantrum, begging churches to focus outward and upward instead of inward. I am all about service-oriented action and all against growing mold on ourselves sitting in our chairs every Sunday if it’s not spurring us on to Christ-like love for the rest of the week. Am I being too harsh? Probably. And yet, its how I feel.
No wonder so many of us give up on the “little c” church! No one likes to be immersed in an environment of bitter preferences and my-way-or-the-highway attitudes. It makes me sick, and it makes me more sick that I don’t know how to deal with my own convictions about the mission of little c churches.
Yet let me tell you why I still go to little c church.
I still believe that the Church can have the furthest-reaching and deepest-rooted impact in our world. Why? Well, Jesus said so, and I consider Him to be a pretty valid source of wisdom. Let’s unpack a few verses where Jesus confirms the mission of the little c church.
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” – Matthew 28:14
Go and make “followers of Jesus” of everyone you know. Now listen, conflicting generations. . . followers of Jesus will probably go to church. Followers of Jesus will also want to help people.
So what’s the first step to make disciples? Bringing people to church or helping people?
Neither! Not even both!
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:35
Loving one another. This is in the context of Christ-follower to Christ-follower relationships. People see, even scrutinize, little c church behavior. In fact, it’s become quite the hobby in gossip circles worldwide. Are we different from the rest of the world, from the hypocritical Christians at all? Are we even any good at loving each other when we all are in one place for a party about Jesus (aka Sunday mornings,) the One we claims unifies our disparate personalities and preferences?
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:24-25
Church these days seems more like a social gathering than a preparation for war. I don’t think Jesus really cared how a body of believers looked. Whether they wore pink robes or sang contemporary worship or had communion every week. John the Baptist probably looked like a psychopath covered in camel hair chomping on locusts, so people sure weren’t drawn to him by his appearance! But you know what He was doing? He was making disciples of all nations. He was telling people the story of redemption, the greatest and true-est love story of all.
God looks at the heart. Church, we’ve lost our purpose.
You know what the natural result of loving one another well looks like? It looks like an outpouring, a fountain, a cracked and spilling out levee of love that can’t be held back. It’s going and making followers of Christ wherever we go because though appearance may make the headlines, in secret, people are drawn to the heart. The result? Church-going Jesus seekers? Sure. Advocates of Jesus love? Sure.
But the result is more and better than we could ever imagine.
So this is a plea to keep going to little c church. The messed-up priorities can end with you. Go and make disciples of all nations. It starts with loving whoever is right in front of you. And I don’t mean love them like a warm fuzzy bear hugging and chatting with them every week, coffee in hand. I guarantee people in your church are hurting. So love them even if it hurts you. Even if it takes away your time, your money, your pride, your comfort. Love is not convenient. Love is sacrificial. Love is radical. The body of believers in your little c church is an extension of your family. If you’re concerned with the oft-mentioned “Great Commission” of Jesus, love your church family well and people will start to notice.
That’s 100% Jesus guaranteed.