Summary: God’s plan for the church to "go" so the unchurched will see that they are not outsiders.
We’re in the series "Be Contagious!" We’re talking about how and why those of us who have experienced the amazing grace of God (and we know how fantastic it is to follow Christ) want to encourage others to accept God’s great love for them too! It’s only natural we would want others to share this wonderful experience.
In this series we’ve talked about the spiritual blessings we have “in Christ” that serve to inspire us to be contagious. We’ve considered how to create a “come as you are” culture in the church by establishing the biblical truth of “no perfect people allowed.”
Then last week we looked at how simple it is to receive God’s amazing grace.
All of those things are essential to being contagious – but there’s still one more essential to becoming contagious Christ followers and to becoming a contagious church.
The church must leave the building!
There are two main reasons the unchurched remain unchurched.
1) Either they consider church irrelevant, which is a shame because worshipping God and being a part of Christian community and getting all this great practical truth out of the Word of God together is so VERY RELEVANT!
2) They mistakenly think church is “ONLY (and this breaks my heart to even say this) FOR INSIDERS.”
Instead of being critical of our friends and family that don’t worship God, do we realize why the church isn’t very contagious sometimes? Sometimes we keep the Good News to ourselves. We may not realize we’re doing it and we certainly don’t want people to stay on the outside without finding a way in. But we haven’t done what the Bible tells us to do to "go."
That haunts me because I know that God wants everyone to experience and enjoy His love and His grace and His peace. WE DON’T WANT ANYONE TO THINK THE CHURCH IS JUST FOR INSIDERS!
So what can we do to erase these misconceptions? What can we do to dispel this haunting image? How do we effectively get the message across that the church is for everyone?
One thing we know for sure is that we need to be warm and welcoming to our guests.
Of course we need to balance our efforts and not try “too hard.”
Back when you were dating, did you ever go out on a date with someone that tried too hard? We’ve all probably made that mistake. We wanted to impress this girl or you wanted to impress this guy. Instead, you came across like a stalker. And so, when you tried to get them to go out with you again they said, “I’m sorry, I think I’m going to be busy for the next twenty years.”
We don’t want to scare people away from church but we do want them to know - AS FAR AS THE CHURCH THAT BELONGS TO JESUS – THERE ARE NO OUTSIDERS! So when they are our guests we give them a warm welcome.
Besides being warm and welcoming when guests arrive, there’s another often-overlooked plan to let people know they’re not outsiders. The church has to go OUT into the world because most of the unchurched are not going to come into the church.
THE CHURCH IS GOING TO HAVE TO LEAVE THE BUILDING IN ORDER TO BE CONTAGIOUS!
That’s the reason for the title to today’s message: “THE CHURCH HAS LEFT THE BUILDING!” If the unchurched are going to know that church is relevant, and that there are no outsiders, then the church must leave the building!
This principle is really rather ironic in the first place because the Bible never employs the word “church” to describe a building. Were you aware of that? Never!
The word “church” in the Bible never refers to bricks and mortar and wood and nails and lighting and decorations. In Scripture, “church” refers to the community of believers – it refers to the people, not the place. Do you know how we know this? The first church buildings weren’t even constructed until the church had been in existence for 3 to 4 hundred years! When the New Testament of the Bible was being written, there were no church buildings!
Even today, more Christians on the face of the earth gather together to worship God without the benefit of church buildings than those of us who do!
Pathway Church doesn’t actually have a “church” building – we’ve converted what was previously a dance studio into a meeting place and leased that until God moves us. And that’s cool! Before now we met at a community center and we met at the Radison. You don’t have to have a building to have a church. We’ve met down at the pavilions at Ditto Landing on the bank of the Tennessee River. And we were the church every bit as much there as we ever have been!