Well, finally my car has all the parts it needs to be road legal and fully functional-except for the radiator. So, we'll just pick it up on Monday and put it in, and I'm good to go!!!
For those of you who don't know already, on the night of Thursday the Thirteenth a large doe decided it would be great fun to play chicken with my car as I was driving home from school at 8:00. This proved untrue, as what the deer percieved as a fly-by-night rush ended up breaking it's neck and two of it's legs. My car ended up in not so great shape as well. Fortunately I emerged without a scratch-proof there is a loving God in heaven. ;-)-
Anyways, I thought I would share with you all a revelation I had yesterday night, at a church meeting.
The initial question I'd like to pose to you is: what is the definition of church?
Typically, answers come in three different flavors: 1) a building, 2) a Sunday morning routine, and 3) God's people.
Last night, in the middle of this meeting, I was struck hard with the thought that God's church is simply his people meeting to edify each other, change the world, and glorify Him.
We (my Mom, Dad, and I) were the only ones to attend Friday's meeting, held in our "Pastor's" (if you can call him that) house. We had long talks about what we thought the definition of church to be, and everyone put in their two cents. I really felt God moving as we talked. This further impressed on me the idea that God is manifested when his people meet together to glorify Him-where and how they meet is irrelevant.
You must understand, for a significant portion of my life I was part of a house church. That is, our body of believers met in each other's houses and shared what God had done in our lives and how we could better reach the community around us. This experience cultivated an understanding in me that "church" is more than just a Sunday morning routine where you sing songs and listen to a pastor, but rather a manifestation of God directing his people to grow and reach the community around them, constantly growing in their knowledge of the faith and in fellowship with each other.
Now don't miss the point here; I'm NOT trying to say that listening to a pastor speak or singing worship songs is wrong-I just refuse to believe that there is all there is. Although these activities are often part of church, they aren't what the end goal of a church should be.
I know that it probably seems like I'm going all Howard Stern on you guys here; the majority of my friends have been raised in program-based church. But my question is: when did church become all about the programs? It seems to me that a lot of churches seem to make the accomplishment of the man-made goals that they set the priority in their Christian life. Bussing youth group kids to events, setting up for activities, the list goes on.
I'm not at all implying that this is wrong; I know that every church has to have some degree of structure, and I'm certainly thankful for those individuals in my own life who have sacrificed their time and energy for a bunch of noisy kids who don't listen to them half the time (myself included!) I'm simply saying that I see this as unfortuantely becoming the end goal in the lives of many Christians: the mainentance and planning of the programs of the church to the detriment of true fellowship with the people the programs are designed to reach.
You have to realize that people want more than programs and a Sunday morning routine. As Jake Owens says, people want love (check out www.jakeowens.blogspot.com for more on this). Kids that come to youth group are searching for more than just a pizza party and a chance to play games: they're searching for an encounter with the One who can save their souls and turn their lives around. How would I propose creating an atmosphere that accomodates this goal? Have deep Bible studies, with a concrete lesson in mind. Have kids leave bearing an admonition to change the world in some small way, then the next week ask them what they did. Keep them accountable. Have apologetics training, where they can learn to defend their faith against the lies in their media and their schools. Have DISCUSSIONS, where everyone can contribute.
Have an unstructured time in your meetings where you ask people to express what God has been doing in their lives (this really helps get the people involved, in my opinion).
Finally, I see the church as modeled in the Book of Acts as more of a family than a function. With this in mind, help keep each other accountable. "Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness. faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart." -2nd Timothy 2:22.