I have been wrestling with some thoughts and ideas in my mind for a while that I want to begin to share with you. They are aspects of my own spiritual journey that God has been showing me in the larger context of my relationship with and responsibility for the church community of LifeQuest. Over the next few days I will be laying out some ideas and thoughts to spur conversation and movement within our body. I hope that you will be a part of this by discussing them on the blog, on FaceBook or better yet by wanting to sit down and have a cup of coffee.
A major aspect that God has been showing me lately is the church as “community.” In our world we talk about church as a place, a building or an organization. None of those are biblical views of the church. The church is not a “place” it is a “community.” It is not an “organization” it is an “organism.” It is not a “meeting” but rather a “movement.” In other words, all of the ways we use to describe church in the 21st century is not accurate.
I heard a guy last week make the statement, “don’t connect church with certain prepositions like at, to in, and from.” In other words, we don’t go “to” church. We are not meeting “at” church. We are not sitting “in” church. The point is that we “are” the church. When we speak using at, in, to, and so on, we communicate that the church is a place. The church is a community of people seeking to follow Jesus and help others to find and follow Jesus. The place we meet is our gathering place. Our worship celebrations are not “church” they are gatherings “of” the church.
If you think about it, when we speak like we do about church we help those not connected to Christ associate church with a building or a place. Read Acts 2: 42-47. The description of the earliest form of the church is not based on a place, but on people with the common goal of loving God and loving others. In other scriptures the church is referred to as the “body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:4) and the “bride of Christ.” (Revelation 19:7). None of those passages focus on a building or a place.
If we want to be who God has called us to be, we must look at the church in anew light. We must see ourselves as the church gathered on Sundays, and Tuesdays and any other time we meet to encourage and fulfill the mission with which we have been called. And we must see ourselves as the church sent, to live among those who do not know Christ and who desperately need to be shown the light and love of Jesus.
So, let’s begin a new conversation. Let’s stop saying we are “going” to church or we have been “at” church. Instead let’s live in the realization that we “are” church. And that is true whether we are gathered for corporate celebration on Sunday or if we are simply sitting in a Starbucks sharing a cup of coffee. (I highly recommend the bold, black, venti!!)
So, what are your thoughts? I would love to hear them. Leave a note on the blog, send me a message on FaceBook, hit me up on Twitter (@johnjharvey) or call me and let’s talk.