We use the word “church” in a far different way than our first century brothers and sisters did. They never once said “Let’s go to church”. They understood that “church” was the gathered people who were believers in Jesus. We do use the word with that meaning in mind but we also use it to mean a building where we meet together once or twice a week, or what happens in the building. I don’t have a problem with saying “Let’s go to church”, I use “church” in that context and meaning frequently. But, there is another problem.
For some reason the building where we meet on Sunday has become a holy place to many people. In fact, many of our church of Christ folks believe the auditorium is more holy than the class rooms or the fellowship hall. For example, some churches will allow music with instruments in the sound track in the fellowship hall but not in the “worship center” or whatever name they have for it. And, some believe that women can speak in a class of mixed adults but not in the “worship assembly”. I have friends who would not dare come to worship on Sunday in the same clothing they would come to a Bible study in one of the class rooms. For some reason unknown to me people think the biggest room in the church building is a holy place.
Not any of these things come from the New Testament. There were no “church buildings” in the first century. People gathered in homes, temple court yards, by the sea, and I suppose any other suitable spot that was convenient. There were no pulpits, so the pulpit is no more a holy place to speak from than is a table in the kitchen.
Because of tradition ingrained over hundreds of years we have adopted ideas that are special to us and guard them as closely as Holy Scripture. The church building has no soul! It’s the people of God who are the “church”. If they meet in someone’s home, if they meet at a ball park, or in a picnic area by a lake, they are the local “church”. These closely held traditions have led men to make rules about what can and cannot happen in the biggest room in the building on Sunday morning. That is not a good thing. None of those man-made rules furthers the cause of Christ and the good news about Him.
We don’t go to “church” to be in God’s presence, we are in God’s presence all the time. If you are a true disciple of Jesus, when you move a part of the church is moving. And when you speak, the church is speaking. Our speech, our actions, and our attitudes should be no different on Saturday afternoon than on Sunday morning, where ever we are.
So let’s stop playing games. Let’s go to church and let’s be the church from Sunday to Sunday. A watching world needs to see genuine Christians living simple, loving everyone, and making much of Jesus.