Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Where and when is church?
For some time now I have been thinking alot about church. You may say that's a good thing and is to be expected of a church planter. However, in particular, I've been thinking about forms of church structure and what the first church in Acts looked like. I can't get past the thought that what church is (at least what I had become accustomed to while growing up along with 99% of western civilization) is not what Jesus had intended when He said, "...and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." The businesslike organizational structure of the church has left me curious for many years; even questioning its validity from a scriptural basis. Is this what Jesus shed His blood and died for?
With all of these thoughts came a few questions, which I have been delving into more earnestly, seeking out what the scriptures teach about who, what, when and where church is. I see nothing in the New Testament that depicts what we have come to know as "Church."
Is church the building we meet in? Can we only have church when we officially meet in the sacred space? Is it God's house? Do we go there to meet or visit God? What about a few Christ followers, gathered around a campfire, sharing their thoughts and fears and praying for one another...is that "church?"
What about a dozen or so Christ followers, gathered for the purpose of feeding and serving needy families, talking with them, praying with them and for them, telling them about Jesus and His desire to know them personally...is that church?
Is church merely the one or two hours on Sunday morning when we gather together, inside the walls and stained glass windows, singing songs of praise, hearing a well planned sermon, passing the offering plate, partaking of the matza crackers and shots of grape juice, and praying for one another's needs? Or is there more to it?
I recently started reading two books by Frank Viola; Pagan Christianity and Reimagining Church, and while I am certain that I will read things that I will disagree with I am also certain that I will be challenged. So far Viola has managed to capture my own thoughts about church...what it is, what it was meant to be, and how far off course the body of Christ has gone.
Anyway, I am imagining the kind of church that those first Christ followers experienced, as recorded in the New Testament. That's what I long for.