A man looks for the best tie to go with his blue suit while his wife feeds three children. She has to make sure he has a peaceful time getting ready so he can be mentally prepared to speak to the crowd that will gather in just under an hour.
A single mom pours herself a cup of coffee in her kitchen – where her college textbooks and notebooks are scattered on the kitchen table. She needs a boost of energy before waking her two kids so they all can make it out the door in time.
A wife nudges her husband, hoping he will wake up and that this will finally be the day he goes with her.
An elderly man gets his wife and her wheelchair into the car. They’ve got to get there early to greet everyone who walks through the doors.
A mother and her fourteen-year-old daughter argue about the outfit she’s wearing while father and son smirk at each other as they grab a quick bowl of cereal.
A few college students wait outside their dorm building for the van to arrive.
A couple gets ready in virtual silence. They have agreed to end their relationship if they can’t find someone who can help them work through their mounting problems.
It’s Sunday morning.
All of these people are about to gather with a few hundred others for about an hour and a half. They will find their seat, they will sing along to beautiful music, pray, place some money in a container, hear about some upcoming events and listen to a well thought-out, well planned, and well delivered sermon that challenges them in their personal relationship with Christ. Following a brief conversation or two they drive out of the parking lot to face the challenges of life for another week, in many cases, just to return to the same scenario the following Sunday.
What happens in the lives of these people on Monday? Sadly, for many people the connection with a local church is limited to attendance at a Sunday morning church service. Was this the kind of church Jesus spoke of when he told Peter, “I will build my church and all the powers of hell will not conquer it”?
[PEOPLE LONG TO BELONG] Even in a culture of individualism, independence, humanism and self-gratification, the foundational need of human beings to connect to other human beings still exists deep in the heart of every person. We long to belong. We are in desperate need to love others and be loved by others. We need to know we are part of something bigger than ourselves. God not did create us to be independent or alone. Even He is not alone.
A few years ago I felt lonely – even in a crowd. I was acquainted with a lot of people. Many words were exchanged between the people I encountered daily. However, the tasks of Christian service had seemed to override the passion of my daily walk with Christ. I was missing out on the kind of meaningful relationships I had experienced as a young believer – the kind of relationships that were foundational to what I understood Christianity to be all about.
Driving on a busy highway one day, I found myself pondering these questions: Who would I call if I were to experience an emergency in the middle of the night tonight? Who would respond immediately? Would he respond because I am “Pastor Bill” or would he respond because of the personal connection he felt with my family and me? One more question filled my heart: What am I doing to build the kind of relationships that would cause me to be satisfied with the answers to these questions?
Within days, I found myself looking through the book of Acts – my favorite book to study – especially at the beginning of each calendar year. The relational quality of the early church always intrigued me, but even more this time. The depth of community experienced by these first Christians amazed me! This is what I longed for.
Our connection to Christianity quickly leads us to our local church, but far too often our connection to our local church is limited to our attendance at the Sunday morning service and some conversation before and after. Our perspective on “church” can be restricted to the building the Sunday service takes place in, the service itself, or to the pastor and staff employed by it.
Acts 2 revolutionizes my understanding of Jesus’ intention for his church. The “church” was birthed on the day of Pentecost. The day of Pentecost took place 50 days after Passover. Seven weeks and one day later; the day after the Sabbath, which in our day – a Monday! Verses 42-47 go on to share facets of life that seem to immediately become commonplace to 3,000 new believers. They were devoted to the apostles’ teaching, they experienced intimate relationships, they ate meals together, they prayed together, they shared their possessions among themselves and daily the Lord added new people to their already exploding community. These verses don’t indicate that any of these trends took place within the context of Sunday morning “church” services. These things took place on Monday and on Tuesday…
I’ve begun to experience this kind of church in the past few years. I want to experience more of it in the years to come. I think Christians everywhere deeply desire a connection to a community of believers that goes beyond one morning each week. I believe Jesus wouldn’t want it any other way. I believe we will not be satisfied until we experience the church Jesus was born for, lived for, died for, was resurrected for and is coming back for. Jesus’ church is not limited to an hour and a half time slot on the first morning of the week. Jesus’ church is Jesus’ people. And His people need each other on Monday too.