I know that many of you are going to balk at that question: Is TIL a church?
Well, what is a church? A building? No. It’s the body of Christ.
Can an unbeliever be in the church? No, not in the body of Christ. No one who is an unbeliever is in the body of Christ though they MAY join a church mistakenly. Church membership is set up to screen against such but most churches just take someone’s word for it. Though mankind cannot know the heart, God does and an unbeliever is technically NOT in the body of Christ – even though he/she may join a church as a member. I hope that makes sense.
So I really started thinking about this recently because I attended 4 local churches in our area on a Sunday for a variety of reasons (won’t go into them now). But I knew at all 4 of these churches that there were unbelievers there. It was obvious because they weren’t worshipping, some were complaining, and some just seemed to be there for “the show” or for some other reason than to worship God.
Then, I thought about Truth in Love. I cannot think of one person in our ministry either on our board or volunteers or staff or counselors who are not Christians. I know they are because all of them exhibit the fruit of the Spirit from a transformed life! All of them do!
Again, I thought to myself: “Though technically and not officially a church, God has made TIL more of a church (i.e. “called out ones”) than He has many other local churches in our area.” AND I really think the difference is serving! Everyone in TIL is serving Christ by helping hurting souls. We are all rallied around the vision of carrying the Gospel to lost souls through the context of biblical counseling!
At worship services in many churches, it’s possible to just sit and watch and not serve. It’s easy to have a “be served” attitude as a spectator. But not at TIL! No one can sit on the sidelines. No one IS sitting on the sidelines. In other words, all are involved in ministry! That’s a real church! That’s an active church! That’s a doer kind of church and not just a hearer only (James 1:22).
Churches are made up of believers in the body of Christ who are worshipping Him and serving others (Matt. 22:37-40). It’s really that simple yet we’ve made church out to be something other than that. TIL is covered in prayer and adheres to the Bible for everything.
I know that some of your are thinking: “Well, what about the sacraments?” We do not practice the sacraments at TIL so if you want to get technical, I will agree with you that we are not a church in that sense. I am not saying TIL is a church just that we are more like a church in the area of having all believers serve the Lord together to proclaim Christ (Col. 1:28).
In many ways, TIL is more of a church than many churches today. That’s a scary thought to me in one sense. In another sense, I am on my knees in thankfulness to God that He is building His church in and through TIL (Matt. 16:18). I’m thrilled to be a small part of the faith family that is TIL. I’m thrilled to be serving CHURCHES in Birmingham and beyond to strengthen the body of Christ.
And I’m grateful for those 4 churches I attended in the same day who are striving to serve Christ and reach others as best they can!
-Mark (grateful to all of the faithful servants in TIL)