Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple. -- 1 Corinthians 3:16–17 (NIV)We commonly see this as a call to care for our bodies, but it can also refer to caring for the church body. We are the church, the body of Christ, and in this passage Paul calls us to care for the church.
Most people who look into such things seem to think that church attendance is declining. Here are a couple of references to look at (not all aligned with Christian beliefs, so be wary!):
Special Report: The American Church in Crisis
The Barna Group
Did You Really Go To Church This Week?
So, the church in America (that's us) seems to be facing some difficulties. We have a responsibility to care for the health of the body. The question is, "What do we do?"
Here are my questions...
- Why does our church exist? Not just in general terms (to spread the gospel, reach the lost, etc.), but specifically our church, in our location, in our time. Why is this church here?
- What does our church need to become in order to fulfill its reason for existence? Which areas of ministry need to be sustained, and what new areas of growth need to be addressed?
- Why are you and I here as a part of this body of believers? Again, the details are important. What part do I play in this body? Why am I here?
- Finally, What must I become in order to maintain this church and keep it healthy? What areas do I need to apply my gifts or grow new talents?
These are difficult questions if you try to answer them thoughtfully. It may require more from us than we had expected!