I’m not into polka music, but I do believe every church needs an accordion. Let me explain…
When it comes to evaluating the church, I’m not one of those guys who recommends we just “do away with church.” No more gatherings on a Sunday morning. No need for pastoral leadership or trained clergy. No need for buildings or programs. Just do away with it all. Meet in homes if you want or if you don’t want, don’t meet at all. Let whoever wants to lead lead, and if no one wants to lead, let anyone or everyone lead.
There is something incredibly naive and alarmingly unbiblical about the idea of abandoning the church.
In fact, I would submit that if you do your homework on those who have the left the “organized church” to pursue a purer and more “organic” form of it, if you check in on them a few years after they’ve left, you’ll usually find that they aren’t any closer to looking like Jesus nor have they had any greater impact on their neighbors or their world.
I know there are some exceptions to this observation, but trust me, I’ve done my homework, and if you follow the stories and check the facts, you’ll find that this mass exodus hasn’t furthered the “cause of Christ” nor strengthened the body of Christ.
Please don’t misunderstand me here.
- Having churches with various expressions, forms and focuses? Yes.
- Being a part of the church’s renewal and restoration process? Yes.
- Being involved in changing the church’s systems and structures? Yes.
But abandoning it?
I don’t believe in abandoning the church but I do believe in reshaping it. And one of the ways we can do so is by re-practicing many of its current practices.
I would suggest that when we come together—in whatever configuration that may be—there are two central practices the church should practice.
- One, we should practice the practices that will help us become better followers of Jesus Christ.
Since “making disciples” is the central mission of the church, we should ask ourselves, “When we come together are we furthering this purpose?” Worship, teaching, communion, fellowship, and other “practices” are all important, and if engaged in properly, should help us become more like Jesus and better followers of Him—which is our goal.
But to “go to church” to just fulfill our weekly religious duty, or be entertained, or feel guilty, or feel good, or see our friends, or gather more information, or… well, you fill in the blank—these aren’t the practices the church should continue practicing.
If we redefine our goal as making disciples and then evaluate our practices in light of whether we are accomplishing this or not, then I believe we will regain a much more purposeful reason for both “doing church” and “going to church.”
- Two, when we come together, we should also practice the practices that will help us more effectively serve our world.
The church has always been most effective when she has focused on being gathered and being scattered. I relate this ebb and flow to playing the accordion; inward movement followed by outward movement; breathing in and breathing out; being gathered and being scattered.
- gathering for edification and scattering for witness
- gathering for equipping and scattering for service
- gathering to relive the redemptive story and scattering to tell the redemptive story.
When I played basketball in high school, we practiced every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday. At the end of each practice our coach would sit us on the bench and further instruct us. Then on Tuesday and Friday nights, before we went out to play our games—in the locker room he would give us some more last-minute instructions and end with a pep talk. But after all of our preparation—we had to go out and play the game!
The same is true of the church. Every church needs to play the accordion. We need to come together for instruction and edification and then go out and “play the game.” It’s not an either-or, it’s a both-and!
So, grab that accordion and let the music begin.
Ken L Roberts
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment.