This is a transition week between the conclusion on our series on the life of Peter [Peter in Progress
] and our next series [The Communion of Saints
] through Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthian church. I believe the Lord’s goal for this next series is to lead us into deeper forms of commitment with one another.
The Church, in it’s truest sense, is so much deeper and incredible than a one-hour corporate gathering on Sunday morning. If you have ever practiced Acts 2:42
with other believers, you’ve gotten a taste of the depth that should be found among believers.
Unfortunately, the Western world has condensed “church life” into an event summarized by the children’s rhyme – complete with hand motions: “Here is the church. Here is the steeple. Open the doors and see all the people. Close doors and hear them pray. Open the doors and they all walk away.”
This rhyme communicates to children and adults that the church is an elaborate building which people walk in and out of. What’s worse is that most Christians have come to believe this! As a result, many church gatherings look like rotary meetings with required singing, or concerts with motivational speeches. We attend these “events” and then go home and live independent lives.
Any glimpse into the book of Acts (or 1 Corinthians for that matter) should remind us that The Church is deep, authentic spiritual community centered around Jesus. The Apostles’ Creed defines The Church as “the communion of saints.” Buildings are helpful, but they are not The Church. Worship gatherings are necessary, but they are not The Church. People committed to Jesus, His Mission and to one another are The Church.
This April, I encourage you to take part in two opportunities to explore deeper levels of church life. The first opportunity will correspond to our new Sunday morning sermon series. Beginning April 3rd, a variety of groups will be gathering to discuss topics like spiritual maturity, spiritual gifts and the opportunities and challenges of deeper community. These groups will meet at various times for 6 weeks. Please consider taking part in this! (If you see me feverishly writing with a pile of books around me, I’m currently putting the finishing touches on the discussion guides for this important series).
The second opportunity invites you deeper into the broader Mennonite community. The annual gathering of churches within the Illinois Mennonite Conference will be held in our church building on April 8th and 9th. Although this is for appointed delegates from each church, you are welcome to experience the deeper circles of life in IMC by attending the Friday evening worship session at 6:30pm with guest preacher, Ervin Stutzman.
My prayer for both of these opportunities is that we who partake will continue to mature as “a spiritual house…a holy priesthood, who offers spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”
(1 Peter 2:5). In other words, learn to be more like The Church.