And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.Ephesians 1:23 (NLT)
There is a new phenomenon (a unique thing) happening. Atheist churches are popping up in cities across the United States. Yes, you read that correctly, atheist churches. It’s an interesting happening. Here’s how they operate. They open their church doors on Sunday morning and welcome in anyone who desires be lifted up. They sing songs that are joy-filled and fun. They tell stories so the kids are captivated. They listen to inspiring messages about how we can be successful in life. They serve their community by sheltering the homeless, feeding the hungry, clothing the poor. They give of their time, talent, and treasures to help humanity. Their churches are built on the premises of helping their communities through social justice and a place that anyone can feel welcome. And, they are thriving. There’s just one thing missing: God. (You can read more here: https://goo.gl/Aj1hDL)
What they have stumbled upon is that community is one of the most important things in life. People want to feel like they belong. People want to feel like they make a difference in the world. While they fail to recognize that it is the love of God that is driving these desires, they are filling a need in society that the local Christian churches have failed to fill.
While it’s easy to point fingers and cast aspersions their direction for daring to call themselves a “church,” we must realize that when we do, the majority of our fingers point back at us. The atheist churches exist because we are not following the model of church community that God has called us to. Just a basic read of Acts 2 shows us that the very early church did all of the things in their community that our atheist church friends are doing now. Why are the atheists doing them? Because we aren’t.
If our idea of church is going to a worship service once per week, then we have to ask whether or not we are full of Christ, as our verse today says. Church is not a worship program. It involves fellowship, community service, sacrifice, love, learning, healing, and, most importantly, Jesus. If we aren’t doing as Christ calls us, then the Christian church is not fulfilling its mission. And, if we ignore Christ, then we are in danger of being a “Christ-less church.”