I was asked a very interesting question last week, that surprisingly I very rarely am asked, “Why?” Why should I come to your church?
The question was asked directly following a funeral I had just done for a woman that was not a Christian. It came from one of her family members as we visited after the funeral. I guess that my favorite part of the conversation was that the answer lay in some of what he had just seen. The son of the woman that died is a part of the church, and the church community showed up for the funeral. Not only was I there with two other pastors, but some people from the choir showed up to sing, and church leaders showed up to give support as well as contribute for the funeral. Funerals in Tanzania are expensive and labor intensive, and it is important to receive help with all the expenses and actual day of labor. I was able to be there when the local government came and tried to tell the family that they could not do the funeral at home, and church members where there to help coordinate and assist in the funeral service.
The community that was seen at the funeral is a type of community that everyone needs. A community that is willing to give and help because you are like family to them. I was encouraging this inquisitive family member to find a church home and stay put. If we are willing to find a church home and grow as the church grows, to learn how to be in relationship with people we don’t really even like, and to help as much as we receive then we may learn how to be the church instead of just going to church. I am getting that printed on a t-shirt some day for the churches here. That is our goal, the only one that really makes sense to us, that every church is a church that is a home, a family, to those who come to worship and that a community of God’s love grows out of their presence, study, and worship.
Huendi kanisani. Kuwe kanisa.
Don’t go to church. Be the church.