Easter Sunday just got very simple, didn’t it? In fact, church in general is so much easier. What once involved dressing, driving, and greeting now merely necessitates a decision. Will I continue in the body of Christ? The stage, the seats, the sound equipment, the cords, the coffee, the child-care, all have become irrelevant. Will I continue to be the body of Christ?
Many years ago, our family found ourselves in a similar situation. Not because of sheltering in place, but because our shelter made us feel “out of place.” The handful of small churches available in our Asian location met in languages foreign to us at the time. Week after week, even while we attended “church,” we received no insight, no inspiration, and very little fellowship. Our preschoolers had no available children’s ministry or extended care. Except for a few hymnal tunes with words in Mandarin, nothing proved familiar.
I want to say I adapted quickly, but that was not the case. For months, I criticized this form so foreign to my tradition. I whined to my husband, to my preschoolers, and even to God. “Why can’t they just do things the way we did them in America?” was my typical plea.
During one such prayer of complaint, I asked God, “So what truly constitutes the church?”
“That’s a great question,” He responded. “Open the book of Acts and find out.”
Over the next year, my husband and I began a trek through this journal of the early church. When we discovered a unique characteristic, we made a note of it in our journal. In all, we found there were seven essential distinctives of the church:
2. Sharing the Word (with personal testimony)
7. The Lord’s Supper (Communion)
That’s it. Seven distinguishing factors. Not every item is accomplished at every gathering, yet the organism of the church lived and breathed the Life of Christ in these few components:
- Leading the body in worship, possibly through music
- Sharing what Scripture has meant to you personally to encourage others
- Praying both spontaneously, as well as during scheduled times
- Being together in accountability and celebration
- Seeking out ways to meet the needs in your circle of influence
- Immersing new believers as they come to faith
- Celebrating in remembrance of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection
How many of these seven took place in your locale this week? What was lacking? What are you personally going to do about it?
Church is not nearly as difficult as we have made it. Join me in giving Him thanks for “removing those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain” (Hebrews 12:27). Let’s move forward to be His body this week.