I recently stayed in a less than glamorous hotel in a developing country. The area surrounding the hotel was covered in trash, run down buildings, and appeared to be a place you wouldn’t want to go for a stroll at night, or during the day for that matter. The hotel wasn’t terrible, although the bathroom door wouldn’t close all the way and the sink wasn’t completely tied into the wall. However, the saving grace about this place was its 10ft concrete wall surrounding the premises. The wall was great because it kept us safe.
Walls are a good thing; they keep us safe from bugs, burglars, bears, and bad weather. But too often walls become a major limiting factor. We get stuck behind them and forget to go beyond them to make a difference. Behind the walls of the church we quickly develop an “us/them” mentality. We build walls to keep the bad out and the good in and in so doing fail to live up to God’s intentions.
As we discuss our churches and our actions, it is always wise to observe the man who did life best. Jesus was not limited by walls. The perfect person who never sinned constantly surrounded Himself with people who did. In fact, He was often seen at parties with thieves, prostitutes, and other “disreputable” people. Jesus was never limited by the “us/them” mentality that church walls create. Neither was the early church; in fact, the early church didn’t even have walls.
Church was never meant to be inside a box
The early church was an organic movement that didn’t have buildings, walls, or clubs. They met in homes, the marketplace, by the river, or wherever they could. They were simply a group of believers who understood their mission was to reach the lost for Christ, no matter how lost they were.
It wasn’t until later in church history that buildings and walls were formed. Growing numbers required more space than homes offered and the advantage of some the features of a dedicated church space became apparent. Today we have incredible opportunities with church buildings such as sound systems, video screens, and clean spaces for children’s ministry—none of which are bad things. Church buildings are great, but like every good thing we have misused them and turned them into something they were never meant to be: a fortress for the healthy. Here is why that is NOT how it is supposed to be…
Jesus died for everyone!
The Bible is clear that Jesus died so ALL could have access to God, so that NONE would die, and the whole world might be saved through Him. Everyone means everyone, and that is good news for you and me. In light of that, here is what we must do:
Adopt a Jesus mindset
The church was never meant to have admission requirements for sinners. If that were the case, none of us would belong here. But alas, many, many churches will close their doors permanently this year because they fail to see people as Jesus does. There is a lost and dying world just outside those walls that needs Jesus and it needs our full attention to point them to Him. As the church, we MUST have Jesus’ mindset; not focusing on what is inside our walls, but focusing on what matters most to God—seeking and saving the lost outside our doors.
Go beyond your walls
We must go outside our comfy walls, groups, and church community to be present in the larger community reaching our world for Christ, just like Jesus did. Healthy people don’t need a doctor. Spend time with the sick people (sinners) outside the walls of your church. Don’t imitate them, but rather point them to Jesus.
Walls are good because they keep us safe, and that is what the church should be, a safe place. But we have forgotten why it should be safe; so lost and dying sinners can find refuge in a loving God. NOT so Christians can get together and shield themselves from the world, disobeying God in the process.
We must go beyond our walls and do the work of Christ.
Todd has been in youth ministry for over a decade and has a passion for reaching lost students and training youth workers to do the same. He is the founder of Stoked On Youth Ministry, a speaker, author, and pastor. When Todd is not writing or speaking he enjoys surfing, baseball and most importantly hanging out with his awesome wife and three beautiful daughters. You can connect with Todd on Twitter @TheTodd_Jones, Instagram @Todd_Jones or for speaking inquiries visit TheToddJones.com
SHARE THIS POST…