One night recently I found myself in the middle of a bad night of sleep. The what if questions were leading me down the many rabbit trails of my mind.
Sometimes those stray questions leads one somewhere useful and this particular evening, the one question that played over and over again in my mind was, What does it mean to be the church?
For many whether they have a close connection to the church or not, that question seems a little odd because when they think of the word church, they think of a place that one visits. The language that we use, certainly leads us to live out that definition of the word.
I’ve been trying for a long time to move away from that kind of understanding of church as building but still find myself trapped in the kind of language that marries me to a concept of the church as a place to go rather than a people of God to be.
That never was so apparent as the day we were driving down the road and my child asked me what an old abandoned “church” building was. I told her it was a church. A few moments later, after giving my head a shake, I said, “I mean, that is a building where the church used to gather.”
This past weekend I was at a convention centre where the church was meeting. It was no less of an experience of church than the gathering that occurs on a Sunday morning in one’s local neighbourhood.
I experienced God at work in conversation, in prayer and in song. I experienced the Spirit as we were being nudged and pushed to move beyond ourselves and our expectations of what the church should be into a future where not only God continues to work in the world but where the church moves out beyond itself to give witness to that work and works there too. And I experienced the support of the community of faith as I was challenged to do something well beyond my comfort zone.
I’ve also felt the same way in sharing of a meal around a table in a home or in a coffee shop as we speak and talk about things that matter and we know that God is alive in the sharing of two or three in matters of the Spirit.
I really want to stop going to church and start being the church. Thanks be to God for times like these, that remind me that being the church is all about gathering together as the people of God working together in mercy, enacting justice and walking humbly with God.