Myrlene L. J. Hamilton admonishes Christians in the opening chapter of the book, Being The Body of Christ: A Handbook for Mobilizing Your Congregation to stop going to church and be the church! “Something is wrong when Christians can be content to ‘go to church’ when in Christ we are called to be the church. Somehow, in the passing of hundreds of years of Christian history, Christians have come to treat the church as a place to go rather than as a people we are called to be,” she states on page one of the book. In order to be the church, Christians have to stop mindlessly consuming and begin to start putting into practice what they have learned in the pews, and move into ministry.
Once we have heard God’s ‘voice in the night’ and think we are ready to respond, it’s wise, she says on pages 14-15 of the book, to ask ourselves some questions.
Does it fit within God’s kingdom priorities? God seems to have a call penchant for justice, for fair treatment of the poor and oppressed. Will pursuing this call serve to help people, or is it really an ego trip for me? Will it bring people closer to Christ, to experience their own ‘transforming moment’?
Is it safe? Does it involve a journey? Most people like activities that are safe, but God’s call is not always safe. In fact, it usually involves a journey that has a fair amount of risks….Going to church is safe. Answering God’s call is not. _____________________________________________________________________________________
Where is my heart? More than likely, a genuine call will involve some amount of passion, which simply means that God has touched our heart in such a way that we can virtually give our lives to this work. Speaking along similar lines, Frederick Beachner says that ‘the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.’15 _____________________________________________________________________________________
Does this call lead me to use my gifts in ministry? If we have heard a genuine call from God, and if we are willing for God to transform us, then the call will lead us to ministry. In the exercise of that ministry we will discover that God has given us special tools with which to do the task. In Romans 12, when Paul challenges us to be transformed, he moves directly into a discussion of spiritual gifts, which are tools for ministry. If we do not find ourselves using our special tools in service to the church and to the world, we may need to reexamine that sense of call. _____________________________________________________________________________________
Myrlene Hamilton concludes the first chapter, "Stop Going to Church," by stating:
When we are walking in the direction that God is leading us, we can walk with confidence, knowing that the One ‘who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion’ (Philippians 1:6 NIV). We may sometimes fail, sometimes hear incorrectly, but God is always faithful to accomplish God’s will in us and through us.
I believe that God is calling Christians to this depth of commitment: to allow ourselves to be transformed in such a way that we will enter into ministry, our Christian vocation. As we allow God to transform us, we will be receptive to God’s call, and we will find that we have stopped going to church-because we are the church!