Why Church Matters

Why Church Matters

For the past several weeks, our church has been going through a series that we are
calling, “Church Matters.” What is the big deal about church? What do we do when we gather
as a church, and why do we do what we do? In order to answer these questions each week, we
have taken a deeper look at some of the various hallmarks of what it means to be the church –
examining the biblical precedent for these activities and considering how they play out
specifically in the life of our church family as we look to engage our world. Some of the topics
that we have studied together are…

We Belong: Church is not just a place that we go or a thing that we do. The church is our
identity. We are the church. We belong to the family of God, born out of the sending of
the Spirit. We live in a world that desperately craves meaning, purpose, and a sense of
belonging — and we have that in Christ. We not only belong to the Church (the unseen,
universal family of believers redeemed by Jesus); we also belong to the church (the local
expression of brothers and sisters gathering and ministering together to practice all of
those “one another” commands in the Bible). And belonging to this local church is not
always going to be easy; it will cost us time, money, and energy. We will bump into
people and situations that get under our skin. But that is a good thing. How can I be
patient, gentle, and bearing in love if there is no one around to annoy me? Like it or not,
I belong to a family. And families share things – like toys, remotes, french fries, and
crowded backseats on road trips. And just like a selfish child, living my life in close
enough proximity to experience family friction is how I learn what it means to love and
be loved.

We Teach: From the very beginning, in the opening chapters of Acts, we see that the
Christian church has always devoted themselves to teaching. Teaching is a central aspect
of what we do when we come together as a church — we give and receive teaching.
Christian teaching is an announcement. Our God is a speaking God, and He has
announced Himself and His Kingdom to us through His creation, His Son, and His Word.
Likewise, our responsibility as a church is to be heralds of this announcement. Christian
teaching is also an invitation. It is an announcement of God’s Story and invitation to
come and find your place in that Story — to continually re-orient your hearts around
Jesus. Furthermore, Christian teaching is a confrontation. In a culture of affirmation and
positive reinforcement, the church remains committed to doctrine and theology, even
when it confronts and challenges our own self-interest. As a church, we want our
teaching to announce, invite, and confront, so that people might be ultimately
transformed by God’s truth.

We Serve: The economy of the gospel tells us that when you lose your life, you find it.
The example of Jesus teaches us that greatness expresses itself in service. The King of
the Universe came to our world washing dirty feet and healing sick people. We
frequently encounter the counsel today to protect our calendars and guard against over-
exertion. While there is certainly practical wisdom in knowing our physical limits, we
also cannot forget that the call of the gospel is to give our lives away. The Christian life
is not marked by margin and “me-time.” The Christian life is marked by love and service
— changing diapers, raking leaves, cooking meals, moving furniture. The Christian life
is marked by tired heads hitting pillows at night, exhausted from a day of spending selves for the good of others. Care for your family, love your neighbors, serve your church —
give your life away to others. This is a life well-lived.

We Eat: Throughout the biblical narrative, God’s people are always eating. At the table,
we get a clear picture of our relationship with God and each other. Our need for food is a
daily reminder of our dependence. We are not self-sufficient, and eating reminds us how
much we need God’s gracious provision to sustain even our very existence. But eating is
also a great levelling act. The table is a place of poignant human commonality. No
matter who you are, you eat. Kings and slaves, billionaires and beggars, priests and
prostitutes. If the gospel is for all people, then so should be my dining room table. The
table was the place that Jesus met with sinners and the place where the early church
tackled the hostility between Jew and Gentile. We come together at the table with glad
and generous hearts, and it is here that we remember the work of Christ as we share
together in the Lord’s Supper. This is the climax of eating together as a church —
remembering Jesus’ death, proclaiming Jesus’ Story, participating with Jesus and His
people, and anticipating Jesus’ return.

Through this series, we have been reminded that the gospel is not an abstraction; it is a Story
of flesh and blood. It is a Story of real people in real places at real times. In our world of
technology, we have a tendency to lose our footing. We live in a world where we can spend
hour after hour “talking to” and “communicating with” people and never leave the six-inch
screen of our phones. People are contacts, emotions are emojis, and social interaction
requires an app. On top of that, our culture of globalization is slowly eroding boundaries and
distinctions. Last month, I was visiting my family and walking around the city of Mainz,
Germany and came across a Subway restaurant. And I was struck with the reality that I could walk into that store and order the same thing I can get in Greenville, SC without even
thinking about it – meatball marinara on Italian herbs and cheese bread with provolone
cheese and banana peppers. It would require zero personal engagement for me to do so.
Then I thought about how there is a striking difference between that and me walking right
across the street to the vendor selling Turkish kabobs. At his store, I have to talk to him. I
have to ask what comes on the number 1 plate because I have never had his number 1 plate.
In fact, no one else in the world, unless they have walked down this street in this city and
walked through this door and spoken with Yusuf has ever had his number 1 plate. This is a
real, distinct place, and this place requires me to engage rather than simply pass through.
May the same be true of our churches. May we be places where real people engage with real
people facing real problems. May we be places with roots, tethering us to our neighborhoods
and our communities. May we be a people with open hands and open homes, finding life as
we give ours away to one another!

Bryce Harrison
Generation LINK Church Planting Resident
The Church at Greer Station