Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Local Church - Country Club or Hospital?

When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Mark 2:17 KJV).

Church leaders & congregations have a choice; they can choose for their church to be a type of Country Club or a Hospital. If a church sees itself as a “Members Only” gathering, it is little more than a Country Club for spiritual fat cats. The sole purpose of such a church is to make everything comfortable for its paying customers – the members. This kind of church has as its main concern the d├ęcor of the building, protecting the carpet on the floor, preserving the church traditions and honoring its liturgies. Everything is aimed at the needs, comfort, and approval of the paying customers – the members. In such an environment, church members will be conditioned to act like ‘club members’ who ‘pay their dues’ and expect everything to be catered in their direction. If they do not like what is going on, they will leave and not come back.

Churches that see themselves as hospitals possess a different mentality altogether. A hospital is for sick people and the purpose of its existence is to make them well. When this mind-set exists in a church congregation – not only is it exciting and fulfilling to see – but you also witness more and more new people coming to the church services so they can be helped, healed, and delivered. The members of such congregations know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that they have the only true medicine that will help hurting humanity.

There are many things we can do for hurting people, and must do for them. But we must never lose sight of the fact that the ultimate goal is to introduce them to Jesus Christ for a life-changing experience. When this happens they become part of the healing process themselves, and assume responsibility to help and heal others.

People in the world know how a church feels about them, and you cannot fool them. If a church is stuck up and self-righteous, people will know it. If a church is a healing station for the afflicted – full of compassionate believers – people will know that too.

The Church is the hope of the world. If church leaders do not have an outward vision to become salt and light in our world, (to promote spiritual transformation, pursue justice, and proclaim the gospel to the lost), then our churches will become spiritual cocoons where privileged Christians can retreat from a hostile world.

A church that lives within its four walls only is no church at all.

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