For me, the “church” has always been church. But there are other gatherings that function as “church” for them and their families.
It was quite a while ago, but I vividly remember a conversation with some visitors to our church. They only came the one time and wouldn’t be back because their children were involved in a youth hockey league. But they were OK with that, because in their words, “Hockey teaches our kids the same things as church: teamwork, loyalty, sacrifice and hard work.” For them, the hockey experience was church.
In another conversation, an on and off attender explained that they got more support, inspiration and fellowship from their lodge than from the church. Church for them had been filled with conflict, controversy, and contradiction. Their lodge encounter was everything that they thought the church should be. For them, that was church.
Yet a third person found church in a group that met at a coffee shop each week. There they could talk openly about their struggles, and the others would listen. There was no condemnation, only affirmation. The group was loyal, dependable and supportive. Since they found everything they needed right there over a cup of coffee, who needs church. Their coffee-shop group was church to them.
Mark Zuckerberg claims that Facebook can provide the support and purpose that people seek through online groups and communities. His mission is to bring people — 1 billion people — together in this way.
I know that the church is about more than just a support group. But why do some churches seem unable to provide the connection, support and therapy that many desire and find elsewhere?
Maybe Satan doesn’t care if you invest your time and energy into a team, a lodge or coffee. But he’ll do his best to make your church seem like the last place you’ll find what you are looking for.