If church is a place you go to, stop going. Stop ‘going’ to church. Church is not a destination. Church is not a building, an address or even a worship service. You don’t go to church like you go to the store, go to school, or go to a ball game, because church is not a building.
In fact, the word ‘church’ shouldn’t even be in the Bible. In Jesus’ famous statement from Matthew 16:18, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it,” the word for church is actually the Greek word ekklesia, which literally means ‘gathering.’ Jesus was referring to the church as the gathering of his followers, the people. Our modern English word ‘church’ comes from the proto-Germanic word kirika introduced by the Catholic church in the early Middle Ages, literally meaning ‘house of the Lord.’ Notice the subtle but fundamental difference? Ekklesia means a gathering of people, kirika means a house of worship. One word refers to the people, one word refers to the building. Jesus called the church to be a gathering of his followers, a movement of people. The church made the movement into a building.
So here’s my plea: Stop going to church. Start being the church. Church is not a service you attend, it’s a lifestyle you live. Church is not bricks and mortar, it’s flesh and souls. If your concern is about a location or a building, church is something you go to. If your concern is the people inside (and outside) the building, church is something you are. If church is Sunday mornings (at least the ones you have free), you’re going to church. If church is something you live at work, school and home, you’re being the church.
Please hear me: this is not an excuse or a call to quit interacting with the church altogether. We’re called to do life together with other believers. Solo Christianity is not biblical. May the church rise up and become so much more than a set of buildings or addresses, services and programs. May the church reclaim her identity as the gathering of Jesus followers, living out and proclaiming the hope found in Him. Stop going to church. Start being the church.