Misconceptions about Christians: Part Two
This is part two in the series of the Misconceptions about Christians. Last week I touched on the misconception that to be a Christian you have to read the Bible literally. Today I will speak another misconception.
Misconception #2 – To be a Christian means you have to go to “church”- While this might seem a bit counter-intuitive for a minister to say such a thing, hear me out. I like to remind people that nowhere in the Bible does Jesus Christ ever advocate or command that his followers go to church. Christ’s message was about bringing the love and reconciliation of God to all people in all places. Never did Jesus say “and on the Sunday gather together in a building for one hour and then return to your lives.”
The church at one time in the United States was the cultural center of a town. The perception was that everyone in the town was a Christian and attended service somewhere on Sunday mornings. It wasn’t ‘if’ you were going to church, rather it was “to which” church you were going to attend.
But over the years, the understanding of ‘church’ has changed and not everyone is on board with it—a conflict has arisen. One of the biggest so called ‘worship wars’ is how church is supposed to look. Some people want the ‘traditional’ way of worshipping: pipe organs, hymnals, wearing your ‘Sunday Bests’, etc. On the other hand there are those who want a more ‘laid back’ or ‘contemporary’ approach – ‘come as you are’ mentality to clothing, praise bands, screens with images and song lyrics. You can try to blend the two together which sometimes works, but more often than not, one side feels the other side has “taken over.”
These two different styles have literally split congregations. But the truth is to be Christian does not mean that you have to attend a worship service in a stained glass windowed building on Sunday morning at 11 a.m. No, rather, worship is supposed to be an expression of gratitude and adoration to God, so how one connects with the Divine is up to them. Don’t get me wrong I believe that fellowship and support of other Christians is vital to faith formation, but it is not limited to a building we call “church.” More and more churches are finding that small group and house church ministries are reaching people that had never graced the door of a church before. Why? Because these groups are generally smaller and more intimate. There is something comforting about expressing one’s doubts about faith issues in someone’s home than in a church building.
The church grew out of a collection of people that wanted to get together and worship God. In the early church, they did not meet in multi-story buildings rather they met in homes. The church today is still the place where faithful followers of God come to worship, but what that looks like for the future is still unknown. I believe that the Church may not look like it does today fifty years from now. But one thing is for sure, I believe what Christ said about where two or more are gathered, there he will be also. Whether it is in a home, 100 year old stained glass building, an old Walmart or a strip mall, the church will remain.
Next week I will continue my series on the misconceptions about Christians. I would love your feedback.
Rev. Evan M. Dolive is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He currently serves as Associate Minister at First Christian Church (DOC) in Orange. Rev. Dolive can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or online at evandolive.wordpress.com.