She asked me where I go to church.
"This is our church." I replied.
"But you don’t have a meeting every Sunday morning?"
"Nope. But we're constantly gathering. We have corporate worship and times of teaching and scripture study. We support each other through life’s difficult moments and raise funds for those in need. Oh! And we spend a lot of time eating together. (My favorite!) That’s our church family!"
"Oh…" She paused...
"But where do you go on Sunday mornings?"
I can't remember what I said, but I do recall thinking...
“What about everything I just described isn’t ‘the church?’"
Rote vs. Right
This conversation happened over a year ago, but these same questions still come up a lot. It's actually pretty understandable….
Rote shapes our "reality" and the Judeo-Christian religious tradition has long-revolved around the Sunday meeting. After a while, tradition meant to point us toward the "main thing" actually becomes the "main thing." In our mechanical repetition, we lose the meaning. In the comfort of routine, we stop searching for it.
For many, the every-Sunday cycle within the "place of worship" has become "Church."
Time & Place vs. People & Purpose
Fundamentally, there’s nothing wrong with meeting on the same day of the week in a designated space. Communal consistency is healthy! And setting a day aside for the Lord, where we renew our trust in His finished work by resting from ours (Sabbath), is so very necessary for faith's sustainability! (And we'd do well not to confuse "Sabbath" with an every-week production built on the backs of volunteers.)
But there’s a make-or-break distinction with real-life implications that can't be missed....
We weren’t called out from the world to be contained within four walls for a couple hours each week. We are made for something that cannot be confined to such a limited vessel.
The Church is people—God’s people—on God’s mission. When and where we gather has nothing to do with who we are and what we’re made for!
Who We Are
When our “beautiful experiment” began, we knew that getting back to the root of “what church is” would be critical. That's why we kicked things off with an article titled “What Is Church?” One excerpt will help us define "church" as clearly as we know how….
Our English word "church" comes from the Greek word kyriakon, meaning "belonging to the Lord." This is pretty accurate! However, this graduated from "the Lord's people" or "community" to "the Lord's house." Our Westernized association with "house" is not with "household" but with a building. Thus, we arrive at the most common association with "church" today — "God's 'house' equals 'sacred building.'"
But the word "church" in the New Testament's Greek comes from ekklēsía, literally translated "to call out from and to." The contextual association would have meant to its hearers "an assembly" or "gathering." Thus, when Jesus made the statement "I will build my church”, listeners would have understood that Jesus was referring to a group of people called out from the world to Him.
The New Testament goes on to describe the “Church” as “one body…a royal priesthood…a chosen people” sometimes meeting in the Temple, in homes, outside by a river or even deep below Rome’s city streets on any-given day of the week.
Friends, the point here is simple….
The Church is not a time of worship or a place of worship.
The Church is a people who worship.
How It Works
A while back, we put out the "How It Works" videos to explain our approach. But our method to doing church isn't the point of this article. This is about being the church. It’s about an identity!
If meeting every Sunday morning in a designated location helps you live into your "body of Christ” identity, then don't stop!
...you don't have to meet every Sunday morning in a building with a big sign out front to be the Church!
The time and place don’t make you who you are.
The families in in our church actually do meet every Sunday morning...in their home...with each other. It's an expression that's quickly become a favorite! We call it "Family Church." CLICK HERE to find out more!
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