Fit to be: THE WAY CHURCH SHOULD BE … But Too Often is Not

It’s Friday! Do your weekend plans include going to church?  “Church” is a topic Renaissance Man and I have discussed a lot lately.  In fact, he wrote about it on the Hope Unlimited blog:  the least of these. With his permission, I’m sharing his post here, in its entirety.
 
The Way Church Should Be
(And Sometimes Is, But Too Often is Not)
 
Our daughter and son-in-law began encouraging us to attend with them several months ago. They had been going for awhile and were experiencing a real difference in their lives; we saw it, too. But it is really different from what we are used to (not our kind of music!), so it took gentle persuasion from them for several months before finally convincing my wife to give it a try. A week later, at her encouragement, I showed up, too.
 
It did not take but a trip or two for both of us, as well as a friend she invited, to get really excited about what is going on there. It is so much what a church should be. When we walked through the door as strangers, virtually everyone there introduced themselves, welcomed us, and told us that being there would change our lives. The youngest we met was probably fourteen, the oldest mid-fifties. The two leaders pulled us aside for some one-on-one time, getting to know us, our strengths, areas where we struggle.
 
In the weeks since, there are so many things that impress. The acceptance of everyone, no matter where they are in their journey. The expectation (demand?) of growth. Accountability. The constant encouragement, everyone really interested in each other’s progress. True rejoicing when goals are reached, and gentle reproach when bad choices are made. A phone call or email after a missed session or two.
 
Real Community. Actually, life-changing community. My kind of church. But as many of you have guessed by now, it is not a church. It’s a CrossFit training facility; a fitness center.

 
Now, I am very aware that church is so much more than a social or physical fitness organization. It is a community of believers, whose faith in Jesus Christ has transformed the lives of both the members individually, and the community collectively. So, let’s not confuse that issue here.
 
The point is, however, that we in church could learn a lot from this collection of really diverse individuals. Everything from the welcome when you walk in the door … to genuine concern for where you are in your journey … to compassion … to accountability.
 
I am not suggesting that church should be a fitness center.
 
Or maybe I am. A place where there is expectation of growth, of change, of spiritual health.

 
No matter what a church looks like on the outside …

 

 

… it’s what’s INSIDE that counts.
 
Sometimes it helps me to stop and ask myself…
 
When I walk through the door of my church, what goes inside with me?  Do I rush in ready to check church off of my “to do” list and get on with my day?  Do I bring an attitude of encouragement — or criticism?  Do I enter prepared to listen and worship — or gossip and gripe?  If everyone else who enters has my same attitude, would people around me feel welcomed — or lonely?  I wonder…

 
To read more posts from the least of these, click HERE.
 
I’m linking to Inspiration Friday @ At The Picket Fence
Spiritual Sundays @ Blogger Spirit

Comments

  1. Very very interesting post. My husband and I have been going 3 or 4 times a week to a 24 Hour fitness center for about a year. I attend a Silver Sneakers class there twice a week so I’ve gotten to know quite a few people there. My husband did a cycling class for awhile and made friends there. Comparing church to a fitness center reminded me of back when Cheers was such a popular TV program. The theme song, you want to go where everybody knows your name, is a catchy tune. I’ve heard that compared to what church should be. Certainly not a bar but a place where everybody knows your name is good.
    Your comment about the bell on my post was interesting. The lady who had the bell collection was 91. That must have been a popular thing to do many years ago. The bells were all displayed on trays on the table where people were signing the guest book. There was a sign there for each person to take a bell and we would be told when to ring it. Fantastic idea I think.
    Have a wonderful weekend.
    Blessings,
    Charlotte

  2. What a wonderfully written piece. I loved the analogy of the fitness center. It was dead on target.

    Dare I say that living in the “Bible Belt” is often a hindrance to true and living church? It is such a part of the culture for so many that the heart of the matter has been forgotten it seems.

    I love what your husband said about accountability too. This Sunday, I’m speaking in front of our church on the beauty of being a member of a Sunday School small group. Part of it (certainly not all) is the accountability.

    There is so much more to say, but your husband said it just fine with no help from me.

  3. you are so right it is what is inside that counts reminds me of the hand play here is the church here is the steeple up in it up and see all the people 🙂 come see what I shared at http://shopannies.blogspot.com

  4. This was interesting to read. I belong to both, a fitness center and a church. I can see a parallel in comparisons; I think it all comes down to how we approach the opportunity presented to us. Each place, any place, gives us an opportunity to connect with people if we allow ourselves to connect. I’m friendly with the staff at the fitness center but just nod maybe in passing with fellow exercisers. The church we are going to right now, a small but growing one, is very open and welcoming. But conversely I’ve been in churches where I have sat week after week and made no connections. I think if we are going to get the message out about Jesus, we need to be more friendly and inviting and “market” him like they market at those fitness centers and one way we can market him is live like he would want us to and be loving and serving to others.

    Just stopped by from Spiritual Sunday; have a good weekend!

    betty

  5. Awesome post! The sounded like the perfect church. I go to church to worship. Love my people, my pastor, my worship leader (really, really love him — my husband!) but God and worship is what church is to me.

    I love your photographs of the churches.

  6. LOVE this Susan! You have no idea how perfect the timing is of this post! I am teaching in our Community Group tomorrow about the true meaning of Hospitality (less about homes and more about hearts, you know?) and this is exactly how I feel church should be. I am totally going to use that poem at the end of my message! 🙂 My hubby and I lead a Welcome Reception every month at our church and it never ceases to amaze us how many people come to it having felt so “unwelcomed” and “uncared” for at other churches. Not that ours is perfect, mind you, but we do our very best to create a place where people can come and “know and be known”. Where they can bring their hurts and pains and all the real stuff of life. I’m so glad your hubby let you share this with us! Pass along our thanks to him please! 🙂
    Vanessa

  7. What a nice post…it’s about belonging, and we all want to belong. A church is the perfect place where people should feel like they belong. Thanks for visiting my Ava’s tea party post, Susan. 🙂

  8. Great post Susan! Church is always on my to do list every weekend. I am so blessed to belong to a wonderful God loving, Bible preaching church. Everytime I attend my life is enriched in some way and I strive to be a blessing to others. I so enjoy your blog. God bless you and your DH.
    Vikki in VA.

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