Some people are a fan of church. A fan is an “ardent follower and admirer”. At first glance of that definition it may seem like a worthy calling for an individual to be a fan of church, but look a little closer and see if you believe the same way.
The word “fan” is mostly used in relation to sports, and so we will use that as a reference point here. Fans can be described in three main categories: casual fan, fan, and zealous fan. A “casual fan” is someone who feels a connection to the team, perhaps goes to a game every now and then, checks the scores and highlights; but is not actively and regularly engaged with the team they admire. A “fan” typically is much more involved in following the team regularly, and enjoys watching, and talking about, the games of the team they admire. The “zealous fan” is usually the guy with season tickets, memorabilia throughout their home, and does not miss a game of the team or sport they admire for anything… including church and maybe even the birth of their child.
However, consider that all of those different categories of “fans” have something in common – None of them are a part of the team. They may watch the team, may care about the team, may follow the team, they may even love the team… but they are not a part of the team. The owner owns the team. The GM manages the operations of the team. The coaches coach the team. The players play on the team. Each of those people are members of, and participants in, the team. They are all a part. The fans are not. The fans are spectators. They have no say in team operations, they don’t get to call plays, they don’t get to play with the players… they are just fans.
This is a hard reality for many fans to face. Oftentimes they see themselves as part of the team. Oftentimes many coaches and players try to speak about the “fans” as part of the team to make them “feel” like a part, but that’s all it is… a feeling. They are not really a part. And so it is in every sport. The participants invest themselves in the work, and the fans invest themselves in admiring the participants. Is that how it is supposed to be in the church? The truth of the matter is, “going to church” no more makes one a part of the body of Christ, than going to AT&T Arena makes one a part of the San Antonio Spurs.
In the church, we are not called to be followers or admirers of “the church”. In fact, the Church is made up of Christians; which by definition is a “follower of Christ” (Acts 11:26). So if Christians are to be anything we are to be fans of Christ (Col. 3:1-2). When it comes to the church, we are not merely supposed to “feel” a connection to the body of Christ, we are supposed to be a part (I Cor. 12:14-27): A working functional part that participates with the whole team (Rom. 12:4-8). In the church of Christ, there are no spectators, there are no admirers, and there are no fans! There are followers of Christ, workers for the Lord, and participants of a team (Ephesians 4:15-16).
Some people are casual fans of church. They admire the idea and institution of church and they go from time to time. Others are fans that may attend regularly and “follow” what’s going on with everyone and everything, but not really follow Christ. And then there are even zealous fans of church, whose homes are decorated with “religious memorabilia”, and yet they do not invest themselves in being a part of the team of believers. If any of these describe you, then let me encourage you this day to no longer be a spectator, but a participant (Phil. 1:27; 2:1-3). Stop being a fan, and join the body of believers that is working to do the Lord’s will together in your area. Don’t be an outsider and just “feel” like you belong, give yourself in service to the Lord and commit yourself to be a contributing part of the body of Christ.