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Stop Playing Church!

Time to be the church and true disciples of Jesus Christ 

Do you long for God sincerely and is your faith real? As Christians, we must be concerned about and strive for authentic discipleship — stop pretending, stop acting like “Christians act” and doing things “Christians do” and be followers of Jesus. 

We must do without organised religion, and become Christians who are tired of just going through the motions and become church leaders who desire to lead people to deeper love and commitment to Christ. Our spiritual disciplines and discipleship must be that which takes seriously who we are, who God is, and living in relationship with Christ. 

As believers, we must be challenged to step out of hiding, take off our mask, and be who we are without shame because we are children of God. 

The reality is that many disciples are just playing at church.

How Do We Play Church?

Going through the motions doesn’t please you, a flawless performance is nothing to you. I learned God-worship when my pride was shattered. Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice” (Ps. 51: 16-17 MSG)

Too many times, we are not committed to worshiping God the way He wants us to be.

How do we play church? Let me count the ways.

The most common play practices are just showing up on Sunday morning for the hour the church service is and think that cuts it. It doesn’t.

If that is all we are doing, are we really listening to the sermon? Are we taking notes? Do we meditate on it that afternoon, let alone any other time during the week?

Or are we just putting in an appearance?

Are we just going through the motions — playing church?

Do we know what the pastor is talking about? When he preaches on The Kingdom of Heaven Is Like parable, do we know the story?

Do we know what it means to pray without ceasing? Do we know what it means to rest in God?

Do we know what it means to submit to God?

If we don’t know, do we ask to meet with him to get clarification? If we are too embarrassed to do that, do we Google it?

Are we just playing church?

Are we attending church every Sunday or just when we feel like it? (I am not talking about those who can’t make it for illness. I am talking about those who decide not to come.)

Are we part-time members or committed members?

Do we make it to Sunday School? Same questions apply. Are we part-time members or committed members?

Are we just playing church?

What happens when business meeting or sporting events come around? Are we even going? Do we know what is happening in our church?

When we are asked a question, do we know what it means? If we don’t, do we care enough to ask for clarification?

Or are we just rubber stamping whatever the leadership is proposing?

Are we just playing church?

What Does God Want?

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ …” (II Pet. 3: 18 ESV)

Obviously, God wants vibrant, growing churches. Now, that doesn’t mean growing in numbers. Yes, God wants more and more people to turn to Him. But that isn’t everything.

God wants us to be growing in our faith. “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ …” (II Pet. 3: 18 ESV)

It is the Church of God.

God gives us free will. Free will is the ability within us to make decisions, which determine actions that produce character.

When we talk about that, we usually say that is where God allows us to decide whether we want to follow Him or not. The salvation decision, however, isn’t the only one God wants us to make.

It does say decisions — plural — doesn’t it?

So, yes. God wants a group decision on the Sunday School curriculum. He wants a group decision on how we want to be a praying church.

God wants a group decision about how we are going to be a family workshopping Him.

To sit there and … crickets … is not what God wants. He doesn’t want the Pastor or the Sunday School leader to just step in and make the decision.

God wants us to question and grow. He wants us to take an active part.

Why? Being a disciple is not a passive exercise. We are to be active.

What argument do worldview people use for a reason not to come to church? They think their ability to make decisions will be taken away.

No, they get to make decisions.

But isn’t it taken away since we leave the decisions to the Pastor? If we have already abdicated decision making to the pastor, it has been taken away from the worldview person who does attend.

That isn’t good.

Making the Connections

Why am I making such a big deal of it?

God does not want our relationship with Him to be one-sided. We can’t be passive in worshiping Him and taking care of His house.

Look at it this way. One of the end-time signs is “… many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another” (Mt. 24: 10 ESV). I’ve always thought of this as they would stop coming to church.

Maybe not.

What if their feet come, but their hearts and minds don’t? Isn’t that just as much falling away as the other?

Won’t the end result be the same? “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 7: 21 ESV).

It’s Time to Stop Playing Church. 

There is an urgent need to move from playing church to being the church.

Telling people to not attend church sounds a bit harsh, right? What if I told you telling people to stop attending church can be the best decision they ever made? Now, before you start gathering your stones, let us break down what a church is and its true purpose of it.

A church is a central place where fellow believers gather and its purpose is for worship and discipleship. As capitalism continues to grow, so does the greed of people, especially, those in power. This greed is having a damaging effect on today’s churches. Churches have turned into a corporation, focusing more on what is coming in, versus the message that is going out, running the risk of losing souls for God’s Kingdom, which is supposed to be the goal.

How did we get here? Or a better question, did capitalism always exist, and have we chosen to accept it? The answer can be found in the book of Matthew. When Jesus entered the temple with His disciples, He witnessed people selling doves, changing money, etc. He, then, began to drive them out by turning over the tables and the cages that held the doves, and stated, “It is written, my house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.” Sadly, this is still continuing today. We now have ATMs in churches and sections where you can purchase food, books, souvenirs, etc.

Now, this is in no way condemning the fellowship of believers, because it does state in the book of Hebrew to not forsake assembling ourselves together. But, if the mission is to make disciples, but the same message is preached every Sunday, with the same people in attendance, then you are better off fellowshipping with a stranger, which leads me to the following story:

Jesus and The Woman at the Well

Firstly, the woman was a Samaritan woman, who in those times, Jews did not associate with. Jesus spoke with the woman, without judgement, and told her everything about her life. She, first though He was a prophet, but later revealed to her that He was the Messiah. After their conversation, the woman returned back to her home and told everyone about her encounter, and that day, many Samaritans were saved.

In today’s climate, would we have spoken to her, or, because she was a Samaritan, would be quick to judge her based on her life and where she came from? Sadly, it would be the latter, and as a result, would have lost out on the many Samaritans that would be saved.

As a child, I used to always ask my mom, “Why are not there any new members joining and why are we, as the church, going out to the streets to preach this message?” Isn’t it the goal to take what we have learned from church and share it with others?

The church has turned into a sorority club, that only allows certain members. How do we expect to live out the Great Commission, which states to make disciples of all nations, when we are closing it off for ourselves? This is one of the reasons why there has been a dropout amongst the youth because they feel that they are not being heard. This is also due to the lack of support and resources needed to get through some of the most difficult times in their life. There is no environment to release their pain and suffering, but rather, oftentimes receive judgment and ridicule.

Because of this, the youth begin to seek refuge in places that take them off the path to find Christ; i.e. gangs, drugs, etc. Many pastors believe that the inclusion of shops and activities will entice the youth to stay, rather than focusing on discipleship, and they begin to question what else can they do.

This is why we must always go back to God’s Word, as it has the answers to any question we may possibly have. The goal is not to bring people to church; it is to bring them to Christ. If you read God’s word, every encounter Jesus had with people, occurred outside of the physical church. As Jesus told the woman at the well, “a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.” He says this to show us that the word should not be confined to a man-made building but should be shared whenever and wherever we have the opportunity to share it. Matthew 18:20 states, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” This is the true meaning of church.

If the church you are going to is not exhibiting what it means to be a true church, then you may be doing yourself a disservice by continuing to attend. 

Bottom line, every true church must incorporate discipleship.

How Do We Apply This?

We have to genuinely turn to God, and realise that it is time to stop playing church.

Every Sunday, churches are filled with those who are simply” playing” games with God. They line up in rows to watch the “show”. 

If it is good enough, they stay and even come back occasionally. However, if it is not entertaining, they will drift off. 

Stop with the plastic smiles, the fake clicks, the backbiting, parading around with that Sunday mask and every time the church doors open mask.  Wake up people! You need to stop, we need to stop” playing church” and get serious.

Good works cannot even get you into heaven!!

Many in churches today are just playing church, pitting churches against other churches, have ministers hating on others, etc… Churches are becoming a playground. We have gotten so skilled in pretending, that we are not allowing the church to be a church. Truth be told we are playing church. 

Just because I didn’t mention your habit, that doesn’t mean you are exempt. 

The reason I say this is we are all human with flaws. Just look in the mirror. Jesus came for the sick…the broken…and the wounded. Who are we coming to church for?

Mark 2:17 ”When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

We have to do better. God is not pleased with ignoring the broken. We talk about the worldly people, but how are we better if we don’t act? How can we expect them to come to Christ when they see we are faking it. If each one of us truly examines self for a minute instead of looking at someone else making judgment, we would understand.

I’m truly done…no more limits.. no more boundaries…no more plastic smiles.. no more playing church…I’m done. Jesus did not die so His people could play church and be comfortable doing it. How long will we ”play church” while there are lost souls to win.

There is no limit to God’s power displayed through His people if we could just stop playing church and start being the church!!!

May God help, preserve and revive His church again. May He make true disciples of its members, in Jesus name!

God bless us all!

With contribution: Dr. Ernest waith, D Min.


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