Monday, January 5, 2009

When is Church?

Having said what I said in my previous blog post, I recognize that our God is not a God of chaos and disorder, but of order and peace. His order and peace come when He is truly the God of me and the God of His Church and when we come together in the unity of the Holy Spirit. While I may be tired of church as usual, I still recognize the need to meet at a specific time and place, and that groups larger than 12-15 need more space than the average home was designed to accomodate, unless of course you live in a 10,000sq.ft. mansion. So, there is still a need and a legitimate use for the old church buildings, and even the newer ones for thatmetter. I just want to get past the mindset that church is merely a place or an event that occurs at specific times during any given day or week. We are the church collectively and individually. Church does not stop when the worship service and fellowship hour have ended, and the lights have been turned off and the facilities have been locked and secured.

If we truly are the Body of Christ and Christ is truly the head, then Church goes on 24/7; when we meet as a large group on Sunday mornings and on other days and times, as well as in small groups in homes throughout the week, or even smaller groups in a coffee shop.

When I am in my house with my family, praying together and eating meals and living life together, is that "Church" ("wherever 2 or more are gathered in My name, there I am in their midst").

When a group of of people are gathered at the church building, serving and partaking in a community meal to feed hungry children and families, is that church? We may not be gathered in the sanctuary and singing praise songs to some nicely arranged music, wearing our Sunday best, or passing the collection plate, but when I look at what the early church did, as recorded in the book of Acts,

42They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)

I can't help but think that our community meal gatherings fit into this description of what the First Church at Jerusalem did when they assembled themselves together for the purposes mentioned above. We come together. We hear from the word of God, we eat together and we pray together, and we are learning how to live this life together as followers of Christ.

What if some of the people who come together for these community meals are members of other local churches and not members of my local church. Are we still the church? Are we still "having church" even though we are not assembling with our respective pastors and flocks?