In 1516, Sir Thomas More wrote a fictional book about an island in the Atlantic Ocean that was home to a perfect society. The book was entitled Utopia.
Today, the term Utopia is used as a metaphor for a perfect place or situation. This week, I sit back and imagine a Churchopia...a church where everything is done exactly how the Bible says it should be done. Here are a few random thoughts to think about and I welcome other ideas for a New Testament Churchopia (remembering our new rules...this is not a place for brawling or fighting, just Truth. If you want to differ and argue, make your own blog and go at it). Anyways...a New Testament Churchopia....
1. In the Church Everyone Loves God.
Of course because of that love, everyone keeps His commandments (John 14:15), everyone lives HOly, everyone tithes, everyone gives an offering (there would never be a need), everyone is surrendered to do what He wants them to do, everyone keeps themselves from sin (2 Cor. 5:14). We love God, so we give, we serve, we love others (Jn. 13:35). Wouldn't it be wonderful?
2. Churches sent out their own missionaries.
There would be no need of para church mission boards or clearing houses. And the missionaries would be sent out and fully supported by their church. No deputation, no time lost on the field due to traveling all across the country. While it is Scriptural for churches to send gifts to other missionaries, I see from Scripture that it was the church that sent the missionary out under their authority.
3. Children would be in the services not constantly pulled away from parents.
We complain that our families are falling apart and our churches need to share some blame in it. We come to church as a family and dad goes to his class, mom to hers, the children to theirs for Sunday School (is Sunday School a mandate in Scripture?). Then Dad and Mom go to the service while kid 1 and kid 2 go to their jr. church. Then we have Master Club/Awana/Patch for them to go to at our midweek. Then of course there is Teen class and teen church for the teens. Then there is a youth activity the first Friday, a kids activity the next Friday, a young adult activity the next Friday, and don't forget about school. Our Christian school keeps our kids 7 hours a day per week from parents, then 8 hours a week for sports practice, and 5 hours a week for games, and choir practice and visitations and bus and nursing home. STOP!!! Now none of those things are in themselves wrong, but in Churchopia, our families are not constantly being torn apart from each other. In the words of Dr. Bob Jones Sr, "Duties Never Conflict." When Paul wrote his epistles to the churches, he expected the children to be in those services, he addressed them even: "Children, Obey your parents in the Lord." (Eph. 6:1) (Col. 3:20).
4. Every church practiced Church Discipline.
It is Scriptural (Gal. 6:1; 1 TIm. 5:20; Titus 3:10; Matt. 18:15-17; 1 Cor. 5). Can you imagine the changes it would make in our lives?
5. Everyone at Churchopia would be actively involved in the ministry.
God set the members in the church and uses the body as an illustration. Every part of the body (church) has a purpose and needs to be working or the body suffers. At Churchopia the body would be in perfect working health.
6. At Churchopia the color of the carpet wouldn't matter.
Wouldn't it be great? Carpet, paint, order of service, furniture, flowers, they really don't matter, because that is not what it is all about!
7. At Churchopia everybody looks forward to the preaching.
Its the highlight and purpose we are gathered. Everyone has their Bibles, they are actually open to the reference, a pen and notebook are taking notes, the topic is studied and proved over the week, and no one is sleeping or looking out the windows. And the sermon is always too short!!!
8. At Churchopia everyone agrees on the music.
It is to be holy, sacred, and uplifting to Christ. It consists of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs and there is no one with 18 piercings and nose rings leading it and the songs don't cause a sudden urge to thrust a hip. Its wonderful!
9. At Churchopia there is no need for campaigns and incentives.
Everyone had someone with them at church because we were constantly working at it throughout every week!
10. At Churchopia the pastor loves his people and serves them.
The thought of being a dictator and master over people is far from Churchopia. The pastor is there to serve, and the people respond with a love and respect to that leadership and provide for that pastor.
Churchopia. I've said many times if I could find a perfect church I wouldn't join it because I would mess it up. Churches are made up of imperfect people like me and you, but that does not release us from striving to be the most Scripturally sound church we can possibly be. I write this some in jest, but at the same time what a difference our world would see if I, every pastor, every church member strove just to do what Scriptures say we should do. A pastor friend of mine said recently: "There are many areas we could debate as being right and wrong; but if we all just did what we know clearly to be right, we wouldn't have time to worry about the 'gray' areas." Yeah, Verily!