by Brad Duncan
What if we woke up tomorrow, and God in his infinite wisdom had closed down the church?
Shut it down?
What if tomorrow he had told all the spiritual leaders that he wanted to do something entirely different now and had closed the church? Not because he was angry, but because he now had a new plan?
What could be his reasons? Consider these:
Reason #1 God would close the church:
To spread the gospel. If the faithful had no where to go to church they would be forced to invest in other things in their communities, considering where they could be the most useful, the most fulfilled, and where they could connect with others. They could connect with secular people and those of other religions. They could look for common ground. They could find more effective ways to communicate their faith that non-Christians could understand. They could find better ways to live their faith in a world that is watching them. In other words, honest life-sharing evangelism. Not selling a religious tradition, just sharing truth.
If God did this he would still be able to accomplish his goal of a kingdom on Earth where people know and love him.
Reason #2 God would close the church:
To reallocate resources: If time was limited and God really wanted to change the world faster, he might want to have all Christians reallocate their time, money and intangible resources (like encouragement and emotional support) to directly work toward helping others and spreading Christ’s love. Resources currently spent on activities that primarily benefit believers huddling in tight-knit groups, keeping the lights on in churches, performing acts of worship, etc., could be reallocated to more quickly meet needs of people, believers and non-believers alike. Just closing down church services alone would release several man-hours per churchgoer per week to use for some other activity. How many weekly hours of helping others would that add up to? Not to mention the other expenses of producing church services.
If God did this he would still be worshiped in the hearts and mouths of believers, and even more so by their actions than might be happening today.
Reason #3 God would close the church:
To re-educate believers. Maybe God would prefer us to open our eyes to the world, its way of thinking, its needs and hang-ups, its important decisions, its internal battles. Maybe God wants us to participate in that world, learning how to get along, learning truths that we are not prone to see. Not ever abandoning the truth from the Bible and the Holy Spirit, but expanding our minds and our hearts to grapple with the world outside.
If God did this he would still have teachers, preachers, thinkers, and parents everywhere at work in the task of speaking the truth, they would just have a broader view to draw from, achieving greater relevance and better equipping believers to deal with real life.
The church of humankind
Maybe you'd like to make your own list. But can you imagine this? The church of humankind. The one and only church. What would that look like to you?
Hopefully this is not God's plan. But the thought experiment is helpful. If in some ways God's purposes would be better served by closing down the church, maybe we should reconsider what we're trying to accomplish in the first place. Maybe instead of closing the church, we can open our hearts, minds and spirits to God in a new way.
Maybe then we can embrace the church of humankind and more fully experience the kingdom of God!