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When Does a Church Become a Club?

Aug 27, 2007
There are many worthwhile clubs and associations in the world. Some will save people from loneliness or a life of crime. Others will be beneficial to health or wellbeing, and sometimes even save life.

But no matter how many lives the Red Cross will save, it will never pass from being a worthwhile association to becoming a church. The same could be said about the UN, some cancer foundations, sports-clubs etc.

But, for the sake of argument, let us imagine that the Manchester United Football Club, that brings so much joy to so many thousand people, decided to use its organization and recourses to preach the gospel as well.

Would that make Man United into a church? Would the Pope, the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury, the Patriarch of Constantinople, etc, accept Man United as a church among churches?

The obvious answer for most people would be No! But why not?

Deep down inside, most Christians feel that their church is somehow special.

They have the idea that God is involved with their particular church, and that if God is involved with other churches as well, they must have many things in common with their own church.

What they love about their church can be their church-building, their priest or pastor, their friends in church, the choir, the Sunday-texts, their youth-program, etc, or a combination of it all.

Man United has a fantastic dome and a great choir, in a butch sort of way. It has a great youth program, though not open to everyone. But doesn't it feel like football-clubs (even though they are great!), have their objectives and churches have theirs?

The same goes for all other great clubs and associations; as fantastic as they may be, they are still just clubs and associations, not churches.

I have noticed something and it's not at all good. I have noticed that not very many churches dare to require of its members to keep the commandment of God anymore!

Sure, it's not popular to be chaste in this day and age! And it's not popular to be honest with the IRS. It's not popular to have a clean language, and stay away from alcohol and drugs.

But Jesus didn't come to be popular! He wouldn't join a gang. He wouldn't swear and take drugs, and he would find it bizarre to hear everyone who calls out "Oh Jesus" all the time.

The churches have become very tolerant. But they do not have the right to be tolerant with disobedience, since it is not their commandments that are being broken.

When the churches concentrate on firing of holy words, but do not require obedience to the commandments by its members, they will lose their franchise to be a church; they will become little more than a club!

Churches might ask why people find it easy to join Amnesty, Greenpeace and, yes, Manchester United even, instead of a church. The answer might be that these clubs looks more like churches, or perhaps, that some churches looks more like clubs.
About the Author
Arnold Ahlstrom is a Scripture-Sleuth, which is why he is building the site http://www.jesus-explained.org. He completed his Masters research in Psychology at the University of Lund in Sweden. Figuring out the "How's" and "Why's" , and sharing it with others, makes him truly happy.
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