The Reformers reacted violently and justifiably to some outrageous abuses taking place within the Christian Church. We owe them a debt of gratitude-our religious freedom is a result of their efforts.

          But many times a reaction is as problematic as that to which it is reacting. Like it or not (admit it or not) many of our doctrinal understandings and patterns of worship are a result of the reactions of the Reformers. Therefore, we must carefully examine the understandings and the perspectives they left us.

          Take their view of the church, for example. Those of us who have been shaped by the Reformation inherited a view of church that was not intended, perhaps, but nevertheless resulted from the way in which church was described during the Reformation. We have come to conceive of church as “a place where certain religious things happen.” The marks of a true church are a place where the gospel is preached correctly and where the external acts of worship are understood and conducted properly.

          Of course these are excellent aspirations. The problem is that, over time, this emphasis has narrowed the church’s understanding of itself toward a “place where” mentality instead of a “people who” understanding. In my judgment this perception of church gives little attention to three critically important implications of being the church of Christ in North America in the 21st century:

  • Church is more than a place “to go” on Sundays to receive forgiveness-it is a people who live out an ethical, alternative, counter-cultural lifestyle every moment of every day.
  • Belonging to the church means more than attending meetings and paying dues-it is a people who are enmeshed in the life of a counter-cultural community of believers (we are family).
  • Being a part of that counter-cultural community of God means that we are the people who bear the awesome responsibility of carrying God’s redemptive mission to His entire creation-beginning at the doorstep of our building and extending around the globe.

          And so our worship must be doing more than characterizing a place where certain religious things happen (correctly); our worship must be transforming us into the Missional People of God for our times.

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