Friday, September 26, 2008

What is the Purpose of THE Church?

This is an excerpt from a comment I just made in response to a blog post at in regards to what the purpose of the church really is and the benefit of small groups, and home churches. Most people if you mentioned you were involved in a "home church" would think you were W*E*I*R*D! So, here are my thoughts on this...

I see the importance of small groups that multiply, and meet (sometimes) in homes, instead of church buildings. That is exactly what Dr. Platt is trying to teach at Brookhills. A few weeks ago he said -- Don't invite the lost to 'come to church'. When you're with them, they are with THE CHURCH. You are the CHURCH! It's much more important that when the 4000 or so people leave that building that they take the CHURCH to be among the people.

We could meet so many more people (lost or not) and meet more needs if we would get back to the hospitatlity that the Word teaches. We (Christians in general and our family in particular) hardly ever have people in our homes anymore, unless we know them really well. That is certainly not how the early church worked, and lest we say that times are different now and that just isn't safe to do, we must remember that these people were eventually martyred! They weren't worried about their safety, or the fear that someone might see their stuff and come back later to take it when they weren't home! That is the greatest problem with reaching out only to those within our own "class" of people.

Interestingly enough, when Dr.Platt first came to Brookhills, I understand that they were trying to get a gymnasium built. (This was before we began visiting and joined, but others have told us about it.) He put a stop to that ASAP! He said that the only way he would go along with that was if they built it in Avondale (downtown B'ham) to minister to those who really needed a safe place to be. From what I understand, he has basically said there will be no more buildings built at Brookhills, not while he's there.

Our church works in conjunction with M-Power ministries (among others), M-Power works with women and children, and hopes to begin working with men soon as well. We have men and women from our church who do small groups there during the week to teach the Word and to invest in the lives of the people on the other side of "the mountain".

During the week, they serve about 150 children with a place to go after school for help with their homework focusing on literacy, provide a snack, and a medical clinic. They really love these kids and their parents. These are kids who would normally go home to an empty house, which is when they usually find trouble as they grow-up. They teach adult literacy classes as well and also help single moms with GED classes and job searching.

Anyway, we went with a group from BH to do work on the building back in August to get it ready for the kids - just before school started. As well, we (as a family) were able to provide new school supplies for some children that otherwise would not have any. Most of these children are in single-mom homes, on a more than tight budget. The work we did to the building was painting, organizing their supplies, etc... Todd did plumbing work. Our oldest (11 year old) went with us. We want her to learn early the importance of ministering to the needs of others. She also went with us on a trip to Lousianna about a year and a half or so ago to do work. She hasn't "gotten it" yet I don't think, but hopefully as the years go by she will begin to understand.

To me, that is the importance of the church. We need to have our resources freed up to meet REAL needs! The very idea that people would give up their hallowed week of vacation, to go on a mission trip in a third world country is too much for most people. What about Mickey Mouse, or the beach, or a cruise, etc...??? NO church needs more buildings for more programs to meet during the week. Brothers and Sisters, all that does is keep the believers so busy "doing church" that they can't BE the CHURCH!

Dr. Platt has really turned things upside down at our church. Shepherding so many of Birmingham's wealthy residents, he continues to challenge their thinking. We are not called to Christ to get "stuff" he always says, we come to Christ to get GOD! (Period!!) He has continually reminded us that our lives are not to be about the accumulation of stuff, about getting our kids name brand clothes, making sure they have the "right" friends (read that connections), buying them popular stuff, and sending them to the "right" college, so they can get the "right" job, and make lots of money. GROSS!! My goal with my children is that they learn through relationship with their dad and I who God is. <<>>

Lately Dr. Platt has been preaching on feeding the hungry, caring for widows and orphans, etc... and our responsible response to the gospel. (Jas 1:27 "Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."

Quite honestly most people who are believers in America look for churches based on their percieved "needs" and what the church can do for them. That is so backwards, and yet they don't even realize it. Following Christ really isn't about being in "church" 3 x or more a week. That doesn't make you a good Christian, it only makes you busy. I can't tell you how many churches I've been in during my 38 years of life that have hammered that thought into it's members. You weren't a good Christian if you didn't come on Sunday night and/or Wednesday night. That is NOT what CHURCH is about. <<>>

Todd told me he'd heard this week that he (Dr. Platt) had put his home on the market to scale down and free up his own resources to be able to do more for the poor and the hungry, and that around 300 other families had followed his example. Hallelujah! May God be glorified in their desire to change their lives to meet the needs of others, and may God show US clearly what HE would have our family to do. Now, I'm not saying (and neither is Platt) that having nice things is evil, just that we should be careful where our focus is and be aware of what we are doing.

Okay, okay, I'm done!
God's blessings and wisdom to you and your's.
Abiding in His grace,


John Edwards said...

Good stuff!!!!!!!!! Ok, where is the best place to eat in Chelsea, Alabammer?

Lori McGuire said...

EEWWW, that's a hard question, depends on what you like. We do really like Uncle Monk's if you want some meat and three for lunch, and their evening menu is really a bit swanky (and delicious) for the little hole in the wall that it is.

As for Mexican food, I prefer the salsa at Hacienda, but Todd likes Habeneros salsa better because he says it's more like the salsa we had when we were in Mexico. So, to him, it's more like the real thing. Hacienda has better fajitas. Habeneros has much better service, and they are all super friendly and helpful. We laugh because if you take three sips out of your tea, they'll refill it with five. And, the food comes out so fast you won't believe it. It's almost like they knew you were coming and had the food ready and waiting on you.

China Garden is okay, if you like Chinese food, it's about average, nothing special, but not bad either. We do it occasionally for take-out.

Johnny Ray's is okay for barbecue, but I don't like their potato salad, I'd just as soon go on over the mountain to Jim 'N' Nicks, personally.

We have an Applebee's in the works, but I don't know how long it will be before it's built. I've been told it will be somewhere around the Wal-greens.

Strangely enough, there are three restaurants inside gas stations here. There's the Huddle House at the Chevron. The service is usually the pits, and it's usually much too crowded on Saturday mornings. So, we've resorted to making our own big Saturday morning breakfasts. You also have Sneaky Pete's inside the other gas station next to it, to the left of the DQ. Then, on the same side as Uncle Monk's, there is a Gus's Hawgs and Dawgs (if that name's not red-neck, I don't know what is), but that is some good old greasy food if you're looking for a good burger, or something like that.

You have Sanpeggio's Pizza and pasta which is by Winn Dixie, it's okay and they also deliver. They have a great Greek Salad.

Lastly you have Papa Saia's which has a wing buffet one day a week (I'm not sure when). I don't do wings, but Todd loves them. They also have some good sandwiches (I like the steak bomber - hold the banana peppers) and pizzas.

Now, if you're feeling really adventurous, we'll take you to Columbiana some Friday night to eat at Bernie's on Main Street. They have a great hamburger steak with gravy and onions, and they also have some swanky stuff on the menu. My personal favorite is the Chicken Ponchartrain. YUMMY! It's a grilled chicken breast in a cream sauce with mushrooms and shrimp. They have a great balsamic vinegrette house dressing too! Thursday night is Italian night, but we haven't found anything on that menu that we really like. Again, we'd prefer to go on over the mountain to Petrucelli's in Inverness - in our opinion, it's the BEST Italian food - hands down! They have THE best Chicken Parmisian ever!!

I've not mentioned the fast food chains, but you've got Subway, DQ, Taco Bell, McDonald's, Whataburger, KFC, and Quizno's. There's also a small coffee shop up on the road that runs behind Uncle Monk's. It was owned by some friends of ours but I don't think they started out with enough capital and they weren't making money quickly enough.

I think that about sums it up!
Can you tell we eat out too much?

John Edwards said...

believe it or not, these are the places we ate at first! Coni loves Gus, and I like Sneaky Petes. We want to try the Chinese place. Uncle Monks was fun, mostly for the atmosphere. You peanut butter pie was great!

Mike said...

Sorry to hear about your continued health woes. However, God will use this for His purposes in some way. Imagine all the lives that will be touched along the way.

As far as Chelsea food, the discussion begins and ends with Subway and Quiznos. It's all down hill after that. :)

Regarding church facilities, I agree and disagree with you at the same time.

Most churches probably do not need more facilities. A few years ago, a pastor reminded me that the local church is the equipping field, not the mission field. Unfortunately, that is not the case in many churches today.

I don't have a problem if the Church meets in a basement, barn or backyard (like all the b's?). I also don't have a problem with the Church meeting in a $25 million facility. I think the issue is why are the people meeting where they are meeting? Are they meeting in the inner city so as to make some sort of appearance of sacrifice? Or do they meet in a $25M facility that is actually equipping Christians to serve God wherever they are or wherever He sends them?

Personally, I am thankful that Hunter Street had the attitude of "making room for one more" when I began to attend there in the 1990s. Have they been faithful with all God has given them? I have no idea, but I sure am glad Jesus met me there!

There are also some definite benefits to the Church meeting in each setting. Perhaps the "home church" is more "real." Perhaps it is more efficient and effective to equip people under one roof.

Maybe some of this makes sense or maybe I'm totally wrong. :)

Heather and I hope you feel better soon. Please let us know if we can do anything to help.

Lori McGuire said...

Mike, thanks for your thoughts. You know us McGuire's have always appreciated and valued your opinion.

You guys really do like some sandwiches don't you??!!?? Subway, Quiznos, you really need to branch out. Besides, I know you eat some Mexican now and then.

Thanks for your prayers. Looks like surgery is on the horizon.