THE ELEPHANT IN THE CHURCH: Should we even go to church?
The expression “the elephant in the room” is a metaphorical idiom in English for an important or enormous topic, question, or controversial issue that is obvious—that everyone knows about but no one mentions or wants to discuss because it makes at least some of them uncomfortable and is personally, socially, or politically embarrassing, controversial, inflammatory, or dangerous.
It is based on the idea/thought that something as conspicuous as an elephant can appear to be overlooked.
In 1814, the poet Ivan Krylov (1769–1844), wrote a fable entitled “The Inquisitive Man” which tells of a man who goes to a museum and notices all sorts of tiny things, but fails to notice an elephant. The phrase became proverbial.
Part 1: Pastor Troy focused on how men, over time, have been stripped of their masculinity, and how the church needs to rescue the dude.
Well, today there are a lot more subjects we could address that would fall in the description of “An Elephant in the Church.”
SEX (BEFORE MARRIAGE, LIVING TOGETHER, DIVORCE AND ADULTERY, SAME SEX), POLITICS, WOMEN’S AUTHORITY IN THE CHURCH, TONGUES AND THE CHARISMATIC GIFTS, MONEY, RACISM AND ON AND ON.
Today, I want to go a different direction and talk about the church itself. Do you really need to go to church? So to jump right in, let me throw out a question as a way to get into our subject.
Does going to church make you a Christian?
Going to church does not make you a Christian.
Following JESUS does.
Claiming God or going to a Bible study doesn’t make you a Christian. Actually following Jesus does. Believing in God doesn’t make you a Christian, Following Jesus does. Reading your Bible or praying doesn’t make you a Christian. Following Jesus does. Tithing or giving offerings doesn’t make you a Christian. Following Jesus does.
Let start off with the first statement: Does going to church make you a Christian? I think today is a great opportunity to talk about the elephant of going to church…
Let me ping your cringe meter. Are you ready? do you think you can handle it? OKKKKKAY Here I go…..
MAYBE SOME OF US NEED TO STOP GOING TO CHURCH!
God’s highest calling for you as a follower of Christ is not for you to go to church. God’s highest calling for you is to be conformed to the image of Christ, of His dear Son, not going to church but to be
PLANTED IN THE CHURCH
To be the church. To be a light shining into a dark world.
God’s highest calling is never to go to a church, but to be planted in the House of God. To be equipped, trained and sent out into the world. Maybe instead of going to church, it’s time to be planted in the house of God.
Psalm 92:12 – The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
Let me stop here and unpack this first verse…What does that word flourish mean? The word flourish is not a common word that we use today.
If you come up to me and say, “Hey, Jerry how are you doing today?” I’m not going to say, “Well, dude. I’m flourishing.” I’m not going to say that, but it’s really a great picture of what happens when your planted. So what does it mean?
It means Thriving…Growing…Prospering…Be a Blessing…Having Spiritual Growth…and the writer here compares it to two trees.
The Cedar and the Palm tree.
Cedars are known for durability, being pleasant to look at and for their smell. Solomon used Cedars in the Temple for the columns, post, beams and roof because the building was to last for centuries. It’s durable.
A Palm branch is symbolic of triumph and victory. If you where able to be a part of the Corinthian games a few thousand years ago, whoever won the games was presented with a palm branch. It would be considered today the gold medal.
When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, it is known as the Triumphal Entry. Here comes the King so they waved palm branches at him.
The righteous will flourish. “Hey, Bro. How you doing?”
“Man I am flourishing. I’m growing. I’m am blessed. I am strong. I am stable. I am pleasing to be around.”
Both of these trees are green all year long. There’s life. There’s strength. There is victory. There’s fruit. The righteous will flourish like a Palm tree. They will grow like a Cedar of Lebanon. Who will flourish?
Psalms 92:13 – Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.
The Bible doesn’t say those who go to Church will flourish, but those who are Planted in the House of the Lord will flourish in the courts of God.
Psalms 92:14 – They shall still bear fruit in old age; They shall be fresh and flourishing
Those who are planted in the house of the Lord, they’re flourishing, they’re blessed, they’re prospering, they’re connected, they’re emotionally engaged, they’re making a difference, they’re fulfilled, they are flourishing.
Unfortunately many of you, if we were using that language, you wouldn’t use the word flourishing.
Instead of saying, “I’m spiritually flourishing,” you might say, “Well, honestly, I’m spiritually dry,” right?
Instead of saying, “I’m thriving emotionally,” some would say, “I am emotionally withering.”
Instead of saying, “I’m connected relationally,” some would say, “I’m relationally barren.”
Instead of saying, “I’m prospering financially with breathing room to be a blessing,” so many would say, “Financially, I’m hurting, and restrained.”
Instead of saying, “I’m fulfilled spiritually—making a difference, full of joy,” so many people say, “I’m still searching, reaching, longing for, hoping for that thing—that hit, that something, that buzz, that relationship, that job, that whatever it is that I don’t have that would fulfill what I’m missing on the inside. I go to church, but I’m not flourishing.”
Those who are planted are those who flourish. Okay. I get that. So what do I need to do?
- RecognizeYour Life is a Seed
What does that mean? It means that a seed has tremendous potential. A seed has the potential to grow, to thrive, to multiply, to produce fruit, to be a blessing to others, but a seed that’s not planted has the potential to lie dormant, unproductive, unfruitful, and dissatisfied. Your life is a seed. Say that with me, “MY LIFE IS A SEED.”
Let me give you a couple principles about planting, and the seed. The first one is this, what do we know about a seed?
A SEED CAN ONLY GROW IF IT’S PLANTED
A seed can only grow if it’s planted. Who flourishes? Those who are planted in the house of God. In fact, Jesus told a really powerful story in Matthew 13. He was talking about a farmer. He used the word sower. He said a sower went out to sow, or to plant, some seed, and the sower threw seed out, and some of the seed fell on a path, on hard ground, and since that seed couldn’t ever take root, birds came along and stole the seed.
That seed never reached its potential. Some seeds fell in shallow soil, and so it spurted up, but because the roots never grew deep, whenever the sun beamed down, it withered up, and died immediately. Some started to grow, but then some other plants with thorns choked out the life of that little emerging plant, and Jesus said it was the worries, and the concerns of this life.
Do you see the metaphor? Some people, they have potential, but they never go anywhere. Some start to grow, but then they fade away. Some start to thrive spiritually, but the worries, concerns, the bills, and the struggles of life choke out the spiritual growth. But then, Jesus said, a seed that falls on good soil multiplies! It multiplies—some 30 times, some 60 times, some 100 times.
That one seed becomes a massive blessing because it was planted in good soil. Who is it that flourishes? Those who are planted in the house of the Lord. A seed can only grow if it’s planted.
Second thing we need to understand is this:
GOING TO CHURCH ISN’T THE SAME AS BEING PLANTED
There’s a real difference. You can hear it even in the language. For example, some of you, if you go to church, and here’s probably what you might have said this week:
“Hey, are we gonna go to church today?”
“I’m kind of thinking, we’re kind of busy.”
“There’s a lot going on, there’s a game.”
“We’re kind of tired, and you know, can we go out to that restaurant we like?”
And you know, kids: “I’m not sure what we’re gonna do.”
“We went last week…”
Listen, when you’re planted, you’ll say, “We are gonna go to church.” Because church isn’t a destination to which you attend. The church is a posture. It’s who you are. It is an identity inside of us.
We recognize even the Greek word translated as church has great meaning. There’s the word ekklesia—it means two things: it means both “gathering,” or “assembly.”
In other words, if you listen to a preacher’s podcast, that’s good, and I recommend you do that, but that’s not the same as being planted in the house of the Lord. In the same way, I don’t want to have relational connection with my children when they listen to a voice message that I send them. I want them assembled in my house, because I am the father, and I love my family gathered together. It’s the assembly, it’s the gathering, but the word ekklesia: ek means out; klesia comes from the word kaleo, which means called. It very literally means “the called out ones.” In other words, we gather together to be unified. We gather together to honor our God. We gather together to corporately worship and hear the Word of God. We gather together to use our gifts, but as we are strengthened, we take all this and take it to the world.
Those who flourish are those who are planted. When we’re planted, we’re not spiritual consumers. The church does not exist for us. When we’re followers of Christ, we realize we are the church, and we exist for the world. There’s a massive difference between going to a building and being plugged into a calling, a movement, a mission.
There are 2 different types of church goers:
Consumers vs. Contributors
This leads me to another truth about being planted. If you are planted in the house of God and you want to Flourish, then you are
2. A Contributor
Ephesians 4:11-13 – And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
The Church is the Body of Christ. In fact the Bible says Jesus is the Head of the body, The head of the Church. Here is another opportunity to ping your cringe meter: are you ready….?
I believe that if your planted in the house of the Lord, your roots are growing deeper and deeper. You’re bearing fruit. Your seed is multiplying. You’re being equipped because you are working in the ministry. You are involved in some form of ministry. You are a contributor. You’re working, serving, impacting, encouraging, and edifying the body of Christ.
Notice I said “your roots are growing deep.” Why is this important? Deep roots allow you to make it through times of drought. The hard times. The difficult times. Times when you have been wronged. Times of offense. You flourish even though there’s drought.
Let’s close with a couple of CTA’s.
Maybe you’re not planted. You have been attending for awhile but realize it’s time to move from a consumer to a contributor. I would invite you and encourage you to go to our membership class.
101 is always the 1st Sunday of every month at 9:30. Then 201 is on the 2nd Sunday, 301 3rd and so forth.
Then if you’re a member but not a contributor, and you’re not using your gifts and talents, you’re not building up the body the church. Find a place to serve to become a river and not a reservoir.