I used to think Living Church or a Church on Fire (as Charasmatics would call it in the 90's) was a busy local church. My church would have Cell Groups, Prayer meetings, Worship workshops, Sunday School training programs, Soaking Sessions, Friday Outreach, Youth Meetings, Youth Rallys, Feed the Poor outreach, Hospital Visitation Groups, Word Equipping Meetings and Staff Meetings happening all the time. (Eish - that is quite a mouthful!) "Wow! Things are happening here all right!" and "God's moving and we're just facilitating what He's doing in the city" were the mantras from our pastors.
Besides the Sunday morning and Sunday evening gatherings, there was a constant buzz amongst all of us...we were alive and kicking, but barely. What I didn't care to admit to myself (or anyone else for that matter) was that many of us were exhausted. "Come to Jesus and you can be free, just like us," we'd tell our unsaved audiences....except we weren't that free. Or happy. Physically and mentally, we were finished. It flipping was hard work. And I didn't even have kids at that stage...I can only imagine what my friends with children were going through with all the demands parenting come with.
The problem was that the local church I was part of was so busy organizing itself so it can run itself so it can be successful at living by itself was doing anything at reaching anyone else....it was servicing just US - the local church!!! By the time we were finished making each other better singers or Sunday School teachers...we had very little time and energy left for our own families. Let alone the lost and dying souls in our city? (and sport!)
I now believe a healthy living local church is one where each one who belongs to that local church is OUT doing what he or she has been given by the Lord to do. If someone in my local church has a desire to build up strong marriages and has a kick-ass marriage course....then he/she must take that OUTside the local church. If some in the local church feel they'd like to be part or join in...then so be it. But surely it can't just be the same 12 couples from that same local church that came last year. Do you get my point?
A living church might seem quiet - hardly any buzz - because the people are not bringing their energy and effort IN, but rather they are using it OUTside; each one doing what they believe God has put on their hearts to do....whether it involves cooking classes, piano training, marriage enrichment, dance and theatre...He has given us gifts and talents - not for us (or even just the local church) - it's not for you - it's for the glory of God - to make Him famous amongst those who don't know Him yet.
(Disclaimer: I'm certainly not against staff meetings or theological Bible studies - but get the point. We can't just be about servicing ourselves. We have to be on about how to reach those outside of the local church with what God has put inside of us!)