A good friend of mine challenged me with the question of what kind of church would Jesus attend if he were walking the earth today. I have pondered this question deeply and wrestled with self-desired answers. Mostly I would like to think that Jesus would attend a church that suits my own desires. Let’s face it most people want church to fit a model designed around their own idea of comfort. But what if Jesus doesn’t want us to be comfortable? What if our own ideas and agenda for church is not what is asked of us? It is a sad reality that some church congregations turn to sensationalism to attract contributors. At the other end of the spectrum some churches are cemented in their own traditions and are ineffective at reaching their own community. Both of these models are at risk of shutting the door on Jesus.
The best way to answer the question what church Jesus would attend is by searching scripture. In Revelation 2-3 Jesus gave messages to seven churches each with their own unique struggles. Christ gave words of encouragement and correction to the churches that still apply today.
1. Ephesus was commended for persevering in truth and doctrinal purity, but the church had forgotten their first love which is Christ. Does your church adhere to scripture and show the love of Christ?
2. Smyrna the church under persecution. Even in their poverty Christ called them rich. Jesus encouraged the church to remain courageous and faithful until death and He would give them the crown of life. When was the last time you prayed for the persecuted church?
3. Pergamos the church settled in the world. This church had embraced false teachers and false teaching. Jesus gave a strong warning to turn away from worldly teaching. This is an easy trap to fall into when a congregants do not take the personal initiative to read scripture.
4. Thyatira the church in idolatry. This church was commended for their works, love, faith, and patience. The Lord gave correction about the acceptance of sexual immorality and idol worship. It is unfortunate that some churches have given themselves over to the desires of todays culture.
5. Sardis the dead church. This is a church that appears to be alive but has few people actually growing spiritually. A church can appear to be healthy without really having a pulse.
6. Philadelphia the church in revival. Having been the youngest of the seven churches listed it was also probably the smallest. This is the type of church that is open to Christ and remains faithful to His word and name. Being a small church is often viewed negatively in our church culture and that does not need to be the case. Jesus did not offer correction to the church of Philadelphia, only encouragement.
7. Laodicea the church in the final state of apostasy. This is a church that has placed its faith in human ability and earthly wealth. This type of church is neither hot or cold rather a distasteful lukewarm. It has been said that if you want to grow a church numerically just have a good business plan and strong financial support. Some churches embrace their own abilities and reject the work of the Holy Spirit.
Scripture does not infer that Jesus prefers traditional church services with long-held tradition or contemporary worship style. The bible does state in Revelation 3:20 says Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and dine with him, and he with me in addition Matthew 18:20 says For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” This is great encouragement to know that if you want Jesus to attend your church just invite him in! First into your heart, and then into your life including church service.
Rev. Burt Schwab