Who Owns the Church?

Sometimes I think we confuse the privileges we have in other organizations or in the work place with our understanding of the church. There are many reasons why membership in a church should be understood as different from other places we belong. Today, let me share just 3:

  1. Giving money and time is not the same as ownership.
  2. Status is not ranked by years. How many committees you serve on, how many times you have been on the council, or how many years you or your family have “belonged” does not make you more important than anyone else.
  3. Programs, even the ones we have personally started or personally invested in or those that meet our personal needs, may have to change for the well-being of the mission.

The church belongs to God. The mission of the church is God’s mission. We get to participate.

The money and time we freely offer (no strings attached) are a response to the lavish love God shows us. It will never be enough. Our generosity always lags behind God’s. God is constantly surprising us with forgiveness, unconditional love, and grace upon grace.

Let’s be honest. The years we have invested have personally benefited us with a life filled with meaning, hope, and a deepening faith. The fact that God trusts us with God’s mission is what amazes me the most.

Sometimes we have to say the hard stuff out loud to reset our expectations. It is easy to buy into the mindset that everything belongs to us. To be sure, the opposite, thinking nothing matters or belongs to us, is equally challenging as it releases us from any opportunity to join with God in mission.

The parable of the Good Samaritan is Jesus helping the religious leaders recalibrate their priorities. I think we all need this attitude adjustment from time to time. As we prepare for the season of Lent, let us step back from our own feelings of entitlement or powerlessness to recognize where power comes from and to keep our own agency in perspective.

God uses us to carry out God’s mission, and it has more impact when we remember whose enterprise this really is in the end. I am praying for a church where they really do say, “Look how they love one another.”
(John 13:34-35)

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