There’s a little word game surrounding “church” that often presents a problem. The problem has to do with the fact that “church” is more than a building. It is, in fact, a local body of believers. But the church is also a universal entity, comprising more than just local believers, but believers from all nations and past ages, too. When someone says, “I’m going to go to church,” I can figure out what meaning they mean. What concerns me is that the “church” word game sometimes messes with people’s lives, too.
The way it happens is simple. People think of the “church” as a building, right? We go into the church building and sing, pray, and listen to a Bible lesson. Then, church is over. We go home and we’re not in the church anymore. So, we live like we’re away from church. Monday through Saturday are not church days anymore, so church living isn’t as necessary. Thus, you have the problem of a Sunday Christian.
What the Church Is Not.
Even though most churches have them, the church is not a building. God went to some effort to make sure that we didn’t make this mistake. He described the people of the church by using a building figure (Eph. 2:20; 1 Cor. 3:11; 1 Pet. 2:5), clearly indicating that no mere building could ever constitute a church. Furthermore, the church is not something that happens just on Sunday. In fact, the early church was “doing church” constantly (Acts 2:42-47), not just on Sunday. The church is not a social club, a bookstore, a musical program, or a place to while away a few hours on a Sunday morning.
What the Church Is.
The church is a body of believers under the leadership of Jesus (Eph 1:22-23). The church is a unity of all kinds of people (1 Cor. 12:13). It is a living, active organism (Col. 2:19). The church is a fellowship of believers whose goal is to glorify God through intentional worship when gathered, and through intensive evangelization of the lost when scattered.
The problem is that it’s easy for us to bifurcate our lives between church and non-church segments. Understanding that we are the church ought to change some things in terms of our behavior. Living a life outside the boundaries of the church overcomes the “Sunday Christian” problem that may misguide one’s spiritual journey.
Being the church outside of the building.
How do you live a life that exceeds the boundaries of the church? How do you avoid being just a Sunday Christian?
- Daily worship. Worship ought not be confined merely to the church building. The Bible describes worship as an activity of daily life (Rom. 12:1-2). Daily worship may be simply a quite time in the morning with God’s Word. Read a chapter or two. Meditate on some verses. Maybe you can even sing a song. Spend some time in prayer. Worship God on a daily basis.
- Prayer. One of the easiest ways to put Christians on a guilt trip is to talk about the lack of prayer in their life. Don’t worry; this isn’t a guilt trip paragraph. It is a gentle encouragement to pray. Pray like the Bible tells us to—unceasingly (1 Thess. 1:2; 5:17). Pray when you get up in the morning; pray when you arrive at work; pray at the middle of the day when you eat lunch; pray while you work. Constant interaction with God through prayer is a delightful privilege of the Christian, and something that can take place all the time—not just in church.
- Fellowship. Even fellowship with Christians can take place outside the church. There is no justification for Christian communes—Christians who interact exclusively with other Christians. (The Bible blasts that misconception. Matt 5:13-16; 28:18-20; John 15:27.) However, it is truly Scriptural to engage in fellowship with other believers as much as we can (Acts 2:42; 2 Cor. 13:14). Fellowship provides encouragement, edification, and adoration of Christ.
Your daily testimony is of absolute importance to living a life that exceeds the boundaries of the church. Presenting to the world the glories of Christ is something that Christians must do—living a life of integrity, joy, and delight in Jesus. The church ought to be a spectacle to unbelievers of how Jesus Christ can revolutionize people’s lives—changing them to become more like Himself. That’s the power of living a life that exceeds the boundaries of the church building.