Pastor’s Corner

BEING Challenge – Day 34 – Choose Church

Church is a Being thing, NOT a Doing thing.

Sometimes life is more difficult when you share it with others; sometimes it is infinitely more wonderful. The challenge is that we don’t get to know in advance which it will be.

This week, Pastor Matt and I went to a conference with hundreds of other pastors from Northern Illinois. While we were there, we studied the Holy Scripture and learned from each other different ways the people of God were living out those truths in their local congregations. In some ways the conference was required, certainly expected for us to attend. There were many other pastors who “should have been there” that weren’t. As I was also preparing for the message this weekend on “Choosing Church” from the Being Challenge I couldn’t help but see all of the similarities among the pastors that we see in the world today.

Sometimes us pastors don’t see eye to eye on everything. Sometimes we choose not to participate in the larger church context because we have enough challenges in our local churches. Sometimes it is just easier to choose not to attend. The devil tells us all of the things we will lose if we go and convinces us that the blessings won’t offset those losses.

The excuses for not going to the pastor’s conference are as varied as the reasons we don’t attend worship or engage in the life of the church–”the topic or speaker don’t sound interesting”, “it costs too much money”, “it takes too much time”, “I could do so many other things with that time”. This is the importance of the title “Choose” Church. We must choose what matters, choose what we are to prioritize, and choose what is foundational and non-negotiable in life.

For Matt and I, we could easily say we have too much to do and in fact say we have each other so we don’t need to waste time and money going to a conference. Instead, Matt and I have chosen to take those blessings and use them to serve at the conference, to bring in great speakers and have it be the best it can be. More work, not more rest, but more blessings multiplied.

Church is about recognizing the blessings we have, thanking/worshipping God for them and sharing them with one another and the world.

Church is not a commodity to be shopped or a product to be evaluated. Church is who we are. We are each individual children of God, united as one in Jesus Christ. The Bible calls us the Body of Christ united under the one head, Jesus. We are referred to as members of the body where each member does its part, not each member getting its benefit. The benefit is seeing, being and growing in the recognition that this world is bigger than my little world.

Many times, seeing the world through that larger context helps us put all of the trials of the world into perspective. Sometimes living a life in that larger context feels more challenging, especially as we fight against the demands and challenges of the world. But I have always found the blessings to outweigh the challenges. To know that I have a God who sees all of the pain, suffering and injustice I see but is also fighting against it and will one day restore justice, mercy and salvation. Nothing brings me more peace in the chaos than that.

But, I can’t always remember it and neither can you. I need you to lift my spirits just like you need Matt and I to lift yours. We need the whole body of Christ working together, not just for ourselves, but for the sake of the whole world.–for the sake of God’s Kingdom here on earth and for all eternity.

Choose Church is a lot less about the blessings we receive but about the calling we have. Yet, the true and powerful mystery is that as we choose to make room for the bigger things in life, everything gets more complicated and more peaceful all at the same time.

May the peace of God and the blessing of the Church family be yours, but just as importantly may you remember that you are that same blessing for others as you Choose to be the Church at Cross and in the world.

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:27

In Christ,

Erik Gauss

Scripture Reading for Sunday, October 16
Hebrews 10:24-25, Acts 2:42-47


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