By Jack Wilkie

I truly believe there is something better than what we have been typically sold as church. As I read the Scriptures and see the value God placed on the church as His vessel for carrying out His mission, and all of the talk about how He will equip us with power far beyond ourselves to accomplish that work, I can’t help but feel that the corporate, staid, safe version of church prevalent in today’s world is not what God had in mind.

Was it really God’s plan for the church to meet a few hours a week where a few “professionals” do the talking and then we all try to go live moral lives and have our individual, private relationships with God? Does it fulfill God’s mission to do things to get people to come, then hope they like the experience enough to stay?

Through Him, I believe the church can be far more than the picture we have of it today.

But it’s going to take commitment. It’s going to take time. It’s going to take willingness to get out of our comfort zones. It’s going to take a lot of love. Above all, it’s going to take a determination to go back to the Bible and let God guide us as we build from the ground up. Instead of glossing over the same passages about church and loving one another, we will have to truly soak them in, pondering what it would look like in practical terms, and then act on them.

Some of this may be applicable to your situation, some of it may not. Some of this applies to me, some of it does not. The goal is to take a general overview and see where we can do better. And I’m not offering these questions as a way of saying I’m doing these things perfectly and I have all the answers. Far from it, actually. It’s my shortcomings in these areas that have put me on this journey of reconsidering the familial nature of church. I’m sharing the questions that have weighed on my heart for the last 6 months or so and continue to do so today.

That’s why I’m leaving these questions open-ended intentionally – not to give the answers but hopefully to stir thought and conversation about how we can better understand the church and act accordingly both as individuals and as congregations.

  • What if we took Paul’s metaphor of a body seriously, realizing that we are as interconnected as limbs and torso, that we feel each other’s pain, that we can’t fully function without each part contributing (1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4)?
  • What if we grasped the value Jesus placed on the church family when he described it as the hundred-fold reward for giving up our lives for Him here on earth (Mark 10:28-30)?
  • What if we took the “one another” commands (love one another, serve one another, give preference to one another) as seriously as the “thou shalt not” commands?
  • What if we realized that passively listening to lessons 3-4 hours per week does not constitute being an active member of the church?
  • What if we assumed the very serious task of being responsible for the spiritual wellbeing of the people in our church family (Galatians 6:1-2, Hebrews 3:12-14)?
  • What if we embraced God’s strength in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) by regularly confessing sins and sharing our struggles?
  • What if we dropped the perfect facade and got to know each other’s lives beyond the superficial “How are you doing?” “Good, you?” “Good” conversations?
  • What if we were all close enough to each other that we would be able to rebuke each other when needed rather than keeping silent or gossiping to others about problems that arise?
  • What if we lived like we’re dependent on the constant prayers of our church family and they are dependent on ours?
  • What if we believed in the power of God to accomplish His own purposes?
  • What if we lived with the understanding that our homes, our time, and our resources all belong to God for His purposes as we’ve signed our lives over as living and holy sacrifices (Romans 12:1)?
  • What if we took seriously the command to be hospitable (Romans 12:13)?
  • What if we made evangelism a team effort of living in loving, biblical community and bringing people into it rather than something we all have to try to manage on our own?
  • What if we tried to attract people with the beauty of Jesus rather than programs, events, and services that make them into customers?
  • What if we measured success by how many people we equip and send rather than how many people we attract?
  • What if we spent less time talking about the evils of the world and more time reaching out to them in love?
  • What if Sunday was less of a set time to come, worship, and be done (and certainly never go over time) and more of a weekly family reunion around our Father’s table?
  • What if we acted on the belief that “church” is neither a building nor an event?
  • What if we were willing to put every non-biblical tradition (programs, Sunday evening, Wednesday evening, order of worship, etc.) on the table and review it for its value in carrying out the mission?
  • What if we realized that we are not just a collection of individuals trying to live moral lives so we can go to heaven? What if we realized the Bible itself wasn’t written to individuals but to a peculiar people?
  • What if we really did love each other in the same extreme, sacrificial manner that Jesus loves the church (John 13:34-35) and treated each other accordingly?
  • What if we grasped that merely getting along while we are in the building together and being friendly to visitors doesn’t make for a “loving church” in the way that Jesus intended?
  • What if our goal was to be known primarily for this radical love rather than our perfect doctrine, great preaching, lively singing, nice building, or attractive programs? What if we believed Jesus when He said that this loving unity would be our apologetic to make the world believe in Him (John 17:20-21)?
  • How would church be different if our congregations made an all-out effort to restore the Acts 2:42-47 brand of church fellowship, hospitality, and love?

Again, these are simply open-ended questions, thinking out loud about the implications for ways the church can be a little more God-glorifying, a little more mission-driven, and a little more community-oriented. What questions would you add?


For more thoughts like these, check out Church Reset in the Focus Press store.