Building + Attendance = Church

Right?

You all provided some great advice and encouragement in my previous post, I Want Some Answers. An anonymous poster has come in at the end with the solution. I do not normally single out comments, but since there is not a link back to this person, I will allow their comment to represent anyone who might quip this little tidbit of advice:

In my humble opinion you should quit forsaking the assembling of yourself from local church life and get back involved.

I know what most church people mean when they spout this phrase. In fact, to be honest, I may have spouted it a time or two, although this wasn’t one of my personal soapboxes.

I am having a little trouble with the intended definitions of the three phrases in this sentence – quit forsaking the assembling of yourself, local church life, and get back involved. Let’s talk about this.

Quit forsaking the assembling of yourself
Typically a person saying this is referring to Sunday morning attendance at a particular church organization.

For the record, I attend church most Sundays.

We like to get together with other believers during the week also. Sometimes it is a larger group and involves worshiping, sharing, and praying for one another. Sometimes it is only another couple or just a friend and might only involve food, coffee, and conversation.

Of course, none of this is church. Often the people we assemble with are not members of the same local organization, and the meetings are not established programs of a particular local institution.

Local church life
This phrase would define which church and which activities? I know, you are supposed to pick a team. No free agents allowed. It was so much easier when I thought we were on the best team.

Now I look around and see so many wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ, but they are not all in the same building. Some of them are housechurching, others are at various churches around town.

Is church life what happens within the walls? Is there church life outside of the walls?

Get back involved
When I hear this, I hear someone telling me to once again embrace a church-centered existence. The routine is spelled out – attend the membership classes, join a small group, volunteer for service in the programs.

Been there, done that. What it produced in my life was a busy schedule. I had to check my calendar to find time for people. It was filled with appointments, classes, and meetings – important sounding leadership things. In fact, I was involved in organizing the church calendar to make sure that everyone else was busy with meetings too.

No thanks. I am trying to learn how to be involved in everyday, real-life ways with normal people unrelated to church programs and activities. As I said earlier, I still gather frequently with believers. That is easy for me, and I enjoy it.

It is not easy or natural for me to develop relationships with people unrelated to church. In fact, if I make myself busy enough with church stuff, I could avoid doing this.

There is still a part of me that would love to embrace the cocoon of a church-centered life once again, but dang it, I think it might even be God who messed up this cozy part of my life. And He seems to be the one who keeps pushing me towards being the church in a different way.

What say you?

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52 thoughts on “Building + Attendance = Church

  1. Oh, Grace, I do think that God is breathing new life into our definitions of what church really is…something is happening to us…Church is so much more than Sunday morning. That is not to exclude Sunday morning but what you described of what goes on during your week is as much ‘church’ as the corporate gathering on Sunday morn.”Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity…” Psalm 133.1

  2. Hey Grace,

    Great thoughts! This only addresses some of them, but I really like my friend Matt’s diagram of
    his church
    . It’s messy, like I rather suspect following Jesus is supposed to be.

    Peace,
    Mike

  3. faintnot,
    “More than” is exactly what I’m getting at. I think the church should be more than one morning, more than one location, and more than one group of people.

    Mike,
    Thanks for the link. I hope that others will click to it also. I love the diagram to display the sort of overlapping that happens naturally when believers connect with one another in organic ways.

  4. Amen Sistah!

    Sooo, in your opinion….when I have lunch with Pam and Donna today and the conversation turns to faith (as it undoubtedly will), is that “church”? ;-)

  5. Hey Grace,

    I found your blog through, oh I don’t even know how I got here. Either way, I think you are right on. “Church” happens in so many places outside of a building and honestly I believe that I participate in what God finds most important mostly outside the hour on Sunday anyway. We just took an existing church south of Atlanta and have been trying to figure out what it really means to be the church that God intended. It’s been ugly and messy and we don’t really have any answers yet though were asking lots of questions. A lot of people left because it became uncomfortable. We don’t meet in a church building now and we don’t beat people up about attendance or about giving or “joining”, because we want them to find common ground in Christ alone.
    Peace to you as you work through what this means for you and your family.

  6. Here, here.

    My husband and I were visiting with some friends the other day about where we are with “church.” He believes that we (believers in general) are supposed to be in church (a weekly service in a local building) and that God has just designed it that way. Period. He’s a good man who loves Jesus with all of his heart, and I’m not going to try to change his mind – but he’s not going to change mine either.

    But, here’s the great thing: we’re both OK with where the other is and can have a great friendship because we trust the other and know each other’s hearts.

    Now THAT sounds like church to me.

  7. I like Mike/Matt’s diagram, too.

    I guess I wonder what our “response” should be to this. We could look at the negative side and identify all the ways the other person is misguided. We could look at the positive side and recognize that they know that the Christian life is no intended to be lived solo and they want that connection for us.

    If our reaction is “I AM CONNECTED!” Then why do we post things like I Want Some Answers?

  8. Grace,

    “Quit forsaking the assembling…” As you know, this is a portion of a longer sentence (Heb 10:24-25) that is often taken out of context – which I think your anonymous commenter did in this case. Also, as you know, this is part of a passage that is very important to me – I even use it as the “description” of my blog.

    I have attempted to examine this phrase in its context in two posts: “But I have perfect attendance” and “Not forsaking, but encouraging“. I won’t go into much detail here, but I would like to add a couple of things:

    1) “Not forsaking” is not a command. The command is to “consider one another” for the purpose of stirring up love and good works. Meeting together is offered by the author as one means of considering one another. It is possible to meet together and yet never consider how to stir up others to love and good works, and then never “encourage” others toward love and good works. Attendance without consideration and encouragement of others breaks this command just as much as failing to meet together does.

    2) “Not forsaking the gathering of yourselves together” does not in any form or fashion limit itself to Sunday morning with a particular group of people in a particular location. Instead, it recognizes that in order to consider and stir up and encourage, we must at some point meet together with other believers. I would even suggest that the “normal” or “standard” or “traditional” (whatever you want to call it) method of meeting together hinders the possibility of considering, stirring up, and encouraging – well, except for the one or two professionals who get paid to do it (oops, did I just say that?).

    Well, I said this wouldn’t be long, so I should probabl stop. I’ll only add this: From this post, it is obvious that you ARE meeting together with believers, you ARE considering them, and you ARE stirring them up to love and good works. From my experience, I don’t think this is true of the vast majority of “church attenders”.

    -Alan

  9. Ditto on Alan’s post.
    I wish people could understand that church isn’t just sunday morning service, and all that it entails.
    {sigh}
    I often wonder what they would’ve told Jesus to do if He showed up here…
    :)
    You handle comments like that so well…I’m going to watch and learn..

  10. I rather suspect the “forsake not” statement probably has more to do with dropping out of fellowship rather than attendance on Sunday morning. I also remember back in Bible college when my professors tried so hard to convince us that “church” only meant an officially organized group centered around preaching, observing ordinances, etc. I think the overall teaching of Scripture does not support that position so well. “Church” as we know it is largely man’s invention – not God’s. And yes, earlier commenters are right – true community and fellowship usually happens outside of the four walls of a church building rather than within the four walls!

  11. I think people have a mixed up view of what church is nowadays. Church is supposed to be boarderless, yet if you do not attend an institutionalised church regularly people want to portray you as the antichrist. I think thats the problem witht eh church today as most people know it. It is an institution and not an identity…?
    Jonny
    PS Grace I have been reading your blog a lot, and I’m really enjoying it. Thanks. You can check out mine as well…some of my earlier stuff may appeal to you?

  12. Grace,

    I’ll be devils advocate here. What would you make of 1 Cor 14:26-40?

    Like it or not, just as Borders/Chapters building is there providing a Starbucks, the church building is there for Christians to fellowship without distraction.

    The way this discussion has been framed, it’s as if I were to pass another Christian on the street and say “Hi” – look I just did church!

    Has anyone stood up and blessed the food at the coffee shop? Asked everyone for quiet whilst they pray? How about baptisms- should they be performed in kitchen or the toilets?

    I understand that church is the people, not the building, but a building provides a space for Christians to meet and fellowship in ways that may not be accepted in the world (1 Cor 14:22-25). It also provides a space for new believers to exercise their faith and ask difficult questions openly.

    It may not be ideal, but I’d rather a world with church buildings than without. Do Barista’s visit their friends and call it “selling coffee”? Do Bankers visit friends and call it “financial advice”? They may provide it for friends but let’s not blur the lines between what something is and what is actually taking place.

    That is called a syllogistic fallacy.

  13. Hi Alexander,

    Well, my community does, in fact, bless bread and wine, have large group silent prayer, and celebrate baptisms in a coffee shop all the time. However, I’ll admit that when we do this, we are explicitly treating the coffee shop like “a church” in the “building” sense – at least the back part of the coffee shop that we rent out. (But there’s no wall or door between that part, and the front area where folks are sipping mochas and discussing American Idol.)

    You make excellent points, I think, but I also think the lines you speak of may be more blurry – or blur-able – than we might tend to assume.

    Peace,
    Mike

  14. Alexander and Mike,

    I follow where you’re going here. I was going to translate the equation

    Building + attendance = church

    to

    Place + people = church

    But that is incomplete. Without Christ being at the center of the People and place, it is nothing.

    Maybe

    Christ( place + people ) = church

  15. Grace, I think you already know my feelings on church. I see church attendance (in the traditional sense) as an excellent part of life for some, and completely toxic and painful for others. If you are they type of person who needs to participate in a traditional church model, knock yourself out. If you are the type of person, or simply at a place in the journey, that traditional church is counterproductive, then you shouldn’t go. Church can be done anywhere at any time. My conversations with Lee Smiling are almost always “church” – and I learn a huge amount too.

    I do go to a fairly non-traditional church gathering on Sundays. That is because this particular gathering is very good for me. It encourages me and builds me up as well as massively challenging me and bringing out things I never knew were there. It’s a safe place of true fellowship, not just a building – in fact, they meet in a rented school hall and in homes at times.

    If Sunday services are the pinnacle of the christian existence, then there is something majorly missing the other 6 days and 22 hours of our lives.

  16. Thanks Cindy.

    Erin,
    Well, you, Pam, and Donna are the church, and of course Jesus will be there, and it is definitely the assembling of yourselves (I always envision legos when I say that). I don’t think you get to call it church, but at the moment, I can’t remember why.

    cl,
    In reality, I think very few people want to give up the ease and convenience of meeting attendance in exchange for the difficulty of living the reality of the kingdom amidst the world. I can see where the transition would be messy. It is uncomfortable. Blessings to you and your church as you continue to live it out.

    Mary,
    So true. That is the difficulty I have in writing a post like this. I don’t want to invalidate what God is doing in local congregations. However, I also want to be allowed to express a different view of being church and to be given the benefit of the doubt that I am still attempting to walk in obedience with the Lord.

    Bob,
    I agree that it is best to see the good intentions behind a statement like this. I also think that it is okay to express a different understanding of the meaning of assembling ourselves.

    The reason that I posted “I Want Some Answers” is because I don’t have all the answers. In spite of the fact that I have many connections, they no longer fit into a neat little Sunday morning box called church.

    Part of my journey to learn to live and express the kingdom of God is also attempting to understand where and how He wants me connected to the Body in that process. At this point, I have more questions than answers.

    Alan,
    I am so glad that you posted. When I was writing the post, I thought about linking to some of your articles, but I didn’t have the time to go back and find them. I really appreciate that you have included the links and that you have done such a thorough job of explaining the meaning of this passage.

    Everyone please read Alan’s posts that are linked if you want a more thorough Scriptural explanation of this passage!

    che,
    I think that so many of us were taught simplistically that this is scripture verse prooftext for someone who isn’t attending Sunday service. I know that I thought that for years without question.

    Rob,
    I appreciate your comments. It seems so much of the teaching concerning church revolves around things that we’ve read back into Scripture in order to support our traditions.

    Jonny,
    It’s nice to meet you. I’ll check out your blog over the weekend.

    I liked your comment about institution vs. identity. We, the people of God, are the church. I think that in spite of what we say, we often default our identity to the organization.

    Alex,
    As a post-charismatic with leanings toward simple church, you might not want to get me started on I Cor.14. :)

    Tell me where you see church happening in that way in a traditional Sunday morning service? I would say that our services are designed to not allow that kind of ministry to one another.

    I fellowshipped without distraction for over 20 years. I’ve come to believe that maybe I am supposed to be distracted by the things happening outside of the building.

    I think there is more to explore about what is actually taking place when we gather. That is my point.

    Mike,
    I agree that we can get together outside of an official building and have church. I think that we can also get together within a church building, have a service, and not really have church.

    Really, the underlying question is what constitutes a legitimate expression of church and gathering.

    Bob,
    How about this…

    1(Christ-follower) = church
    2(Christ-followers) = assembling with Jesus in the midst
    x(Christ-followers) = the Body
    x(assembling) = ecclesia

    The explanation:

    One believer is the church.
    Two believers together is assembling with Jesus in their midst.
    Multiple believers is the Body.
    Multiple assembling is ecclesia.

    Mike,
    Math is fun! ;)

    Heather,
    Great comments! Ultimately church should be a place of encouragement, challenge, and growth in our walk with the Lord. If that isn’t happening, it’s probably time to do something else.

  17. personally i never leave home without my own tabernacle, it’s light weight, portable, you can shelter in it and has a very low carbon footprint – church bldings are so 2006 ;)

  18. Bob,
    From your statement I take it that you don’t believe we are the church both individually and collectively. I am interested in what you have to say about this.

    I’m headed off to work, but I’ll check back in this afternoon.

  19. I like Stuart Murrays minimal definition: Fellowship, Worship, Mission. A group of people that has these three characteristics is a church.

  20. Mike,

    Very good. I once went to a church meeting that had a bar at the back of the hall (it was a theater).

    I would say 1 Christ-follower does not constitute the church. The church is the body of Christ- therefore all the believers are the church. Man was not meant to live alone- I don’t think this simply related to a man and a woman.

    my own opinion is this, believers are not required to assemble with each other, just as you are not required to feed your dog or water your plants. However if you don’t feed your dog, water your plants, or attend some sort of fellowship (prayer, teaching, communion and worship) then your dog, your plants and your spiritual walk will suffer.

    Where you meet is not so significant, however what I am saying is that a church building provides this space better than anything else.

    Grace, 1 Cor 14:40 – There is an implicit command for us to maintain some sort of order- I’ve haven’t seen this practiced in all churches I’ve attended but I have in some.

    Why is it so easy for us to ditch buildings, leaders, brothers and sisters (we don’t agree with), or a sense of organisation? We don’t do the same when it comes to our jobs or public service buildings. It is actually showing preferential respect for the world (abiding by cultural sensitivities) more than the church.

    Anyone here ever decided they were sick of conforming to male/female changing? Any blue-collars here decided that they shouldn’t be forced to work a set shift? How’d that go when you informed your boss?

  21. Grace,

    This is a tough one to articulate–probably because I don’t really “have it figured out”. I think we are church individually and collectively but we are not church individually and the church collectively. To press the math analogy

    church = individual + collective is TRUE

    church = individual
    church = collective are not TRUE

    One of those three/one, fully God/fully man mysteries: there is no collective without individuals, there is no individual without participation in a collective.

    Looking back at that is sounds like philosophical hair splitting and I know I’m borrowing thoughts but I think it’s important.

    To me, the statement 1(Christ-follower) = church is the ultimate manifestation of the splintering of the body Christ. And that evokes deep sorrow in my spirit.

  22. This post and the comments amaze especially in the conversations that I am having this week.

    I am about to take a few day sabbatical, so I will take this one from the bleachers and have fun reading when I return ..

    I think we have severely messed up what God intended. The church is no where near what it should be and was / intended for.

    Heck, I don’t think that we should really use “church” but focus on the Kingdom of God.

    I am also becoming very sick of the evangelism talk that is “getting them in the door” (attendance).

    We, as individuals, are the church – get you butt out there and be the church to the people that you come into contact with.

    You have one life to live – live it to the fullest and with passion and quit trying to compartimenalize it .. work / firends / family / church activities .. it is all the same .. Let God live within you and walk with God every day.

  23. I’m just now getting to the point of branching out and reading again from finishing CDTS. Great post. That’s about all i have in me to say at the moment.

  24. Pastor Astor,
    Thanks for that definition.

    Alexander and Bob,
    Before we go any further, let me say that I agree with you about the importance of community and gathering. I am not promoting an isolated, individualistic walk.

    We need one another and obviously cannot fulfill all of the one-another commands of the NT apart from relationship with one another.

    Alexander,
    I agree with you that the church is all of the believers. However, all of the believers don’t ever gather corporately in one time/place. We are also the church when we aren’t gathered. Not to say we shouldn’t gather, just saying that being the church is a part of our identity, not just our activity.

    I wouldn’t take ICor14:40 as an order of service, but rather a suggestion of respect and courtesy in our behavior toward one another. If anything, I would read verse 26 as more of an order of service.

    I’m afraid you lost me in your last couple of paragraphs. Hopefully my earlier explanation clarified that I agree with the importance of gathering.

    Bob,
    Keep pushing back. I enjoy your exploration of the topic.

    Given that it is unhealthy and unproductive for an individual to not be connected to other parts of the body of Christ…

    I believe that each person, indwelled by the HS, is the church. Therefore, when I interact with an unbeliever, I am being the church, carrying my expression of Jesus and the Body of Christ, the life and the power of the Spirit.

    I also believe that our relationships with one another are an exponentially more powerful expression of the church and kingdom. However, even when I happen to be alone, I believe that the wisdom, love, and encouragement of those I worship with remains a part of me, that I carry it with me through my week.

    Finally, I believe that a believer without fellowship, while still the church, is a light under a bushel basket, ineffective and separated from the life and purpose for which they were intended.

    Are we close yet? :)

  25. Jeff,
    Great thoughts. The kingdom of God is more about sending than gathering, that is kind of the whole idea behind the concept of missional living. While gathering is important, I believe that we have emphasized at the neglect of sending.

    I love your final statement about not compartmentalizing our lives, but letting God live through every part.

    Bryan,
    Can you still type? I hope the hand heals quickly.

  26. We’re very close, Grace. I can’t improve on your statements other than to make some fine adjustments. “Indwelt individuals are members of the church.”

    “When we talk to unbelievers we are being ambassadors of the church.”

    I prefer to maintain the “part of a whole” language because I think it imposes a healthy humility/accountability to our collective presence on the individual. Though we be apart physically we can never be separate from the Body.

  27. Interesting discussion!

    About Erin and her friends and if they are church: I totally agree with everything said about church not being about sunday morning in a building.

    But I would say church has something to do with a community that is commited to one another, and perhaps also to certain values – like mission.

    To gather, have a good experience and talk about Jesus – is a good thing – but not necessary church, as I think there is something about commitment to one another there.
    (and of course erin and her friends can have that, I really don’t know all about that).

    At least thats my opinion.

  28. Thinking about this a tweak more. Accountability to our collective presence is the very thing that (should) make going out and starting our “own church” a distasteful experience. We may be upset with our current community, we may even leave them, they may be completely in the wrong. But….they, sick as they are, are still part of the Body. We can separate ourselves from them but we will never be separate.

    We will never be healthy (individually and collectively) unless we continue to bear a burden for our weaker brothers and strive for their (a.k.a. our) restoration and reconciliation.

  29. Grace,

    I don’t doubt at all your sincerity and that you are not attempting to promote and individualistic walk.

    I’m in full agreement with Bob, I certainly think the definitions of “members” and “ambassadors” are excellent.

    The local fellowship of the church is what keeps us grounded and stops us from going to far and becoming subject to false teaching.

    All of the teaching in the bible is about reconciliation and confrontation. Why does God hate divorce? He wants to see believers join together, rather than fraction. If you have a problem with a brother or sister you are commanded to go and try to resolve it. If there is sin, you are commanded to challenge it.

    Although you may need to leave a fellowship if it becomes heretical or is taken over by a false doctrine, it shouldn’t be any less a “distasteful experience”. Just as the cure can sometimes be as painful as much as the disease.

  30. Good post….good conversation. A couple of thoughts:

    Alexander, I think the point concerning the institutional “church” is that in its current form it reflects significant influence from the Enlightenment/Modernism instead of Scripture. The church is an organism, not an organization. Organisms are organized but they are not institutionalized or an organization like a business. So, in my view, the church as organism is not comparable to modern businesses, governments, etc. that are organizations/institutions. This is the reason Paul refers to the ekklesia as a body (as in human body) or a family. Both are organized but not organizations/institutions.

    On the point of ambassadors I would ask: Are we ambassadors for the church or ambassadors for the King (God) and his Kingdom? We are members of the church are a part of the Kingdom but the Kingdom of God is far more than just the church.

  31. Traveller,

    Excellent point. If we (individually and collectively) are the church we cannot be ambassadors of ourselves. Our citizenship is not of this world. It is of the Kingdom. We are sent here as exiles and ambassadors to witness to our home and speak into the world where we are place.

    Thanks for your insight. It was a very important one. As soon as we begin to think of the church as “the end” we’ve settled for something less.

  32. Traveller, Bob,

    I can’t help but think all that is happening here is substituting words like ‘church’ for ‘kingdom’. We’re not changing anything but the language which simply oversimplifies and muddies the waters.

    With regards to comparing the church to modern business, I agree, but when you say we’re not ambassadors of the church because we ARE the church, you’re branching into relativism and abstract concepts rather than anything meaningful and tangible.

    Fine, use ‘kingdom’ if you want, but 15 years from now there will probably be another movement that questions why we use ‘kingdom’ when ‘church’ is good enough.

    It’s simply nonsense, it’s an attempt to establish a library of unnecessary neologisms just to feel contemporary and there is absolutely no need whatsoever.

    A church is church
    Gods Kingdom is a kingdom
    A Christian is someone who follows the Christ.

    These facts don’t change, thought you can substitute terms for whatever you please.

  33. I’ve increasingly enjoyed the reality that Jesus calls us not to a church nor even an “ekklesia” but rather into a kingdom that is alive in Himself, the King. It’s redefined my understanding of my identity and role in His kingdom and in relationship with Him.

    And what a kingdom it is! May the Spirit of God give the whole kingdom family eyes to see what we have entered into so that we might deny our self-life and self-righteousness and begin receiving the perfected life and lifestyle Christ so freely offers! Then we’ll really have something worthwhile to invite seekers into!

  34. Grace:

    I popped back in for a few minutes of break because your post has been on my heart.

    I think that you are in a wonderful place in that God is speaking to you and telling you that church may need to be experienced in a different way.

    Also, you are very correct on the institution of church that chalk fills the calendar and we buy into a mentality that if we are busy doing church work; we are a great disciple.

    We, as individuals, have to break this trend and we need to begin living the life that God has called us to live.

    Unfortunately, not many are doing it and our world is suffering because they (we) are not living the life He has called us to.

  35. I understand the buzzwords in the comment and also understand your reaction to them. I guess to me, we are called together by God into the Body of Christ. I believe His intent is for us to get close enough and real enough with those persons for a family relationship to develop (after all, we are brothers and sisters in Christ). I believe that though online and long-distance relationships can occur, the biblical intent is for face-to-face, touchable persons gathering together and sharing life with each other in Christ. This gathering at various times includes worship, prayer, study, fellowship, laughter and tears. Often, disagreements happen. Coming from a sacramental background, I believe Holy Communion is to be shared. This is what is meant by the words assembling, local, and involved, to me. Does this occur just as a result of being a member in the institutional church? No. Many times not. It takes a concerted effort to step out and give this much of oneself to others. Does this mean that it will automatically happen in a small group who meets at a coffee shop or home? No. In any setting, there must be shared life. That was the intent from Genesis onward. Life together with each other and God. This life together should look different in some ways from the culture. The presence and power of God along with extraordinary acts of love and obedience to Christ seem to be the biblical norm. Again, this takes personal sacrifice and outward (not self-centered) action.

  36. Alexander,

    I see your point about the terms we’re kicking around here. Church is church, Kingdom kingdom, Christian follower. Agreed. But what is being discussed is the relationship between these nouns. When we begin to confuse them and start to say the church is a place/time or an individual is a church we need these adjustments.

    This isn’t a substitution of terms. for me. It is a clarification of their relationship/role in our lives.

  37. Addendum to be “fair”: also when we term ourselves ambassadors to our own visible manifestation of Christ (the church) we lose sight of our true citizenship in the Kingdom.

  38. Now that I’m home from church, I’ll jump back in here…

    Bob,
    I see the distinction you are making, and I believe I understand your reason. From an identity perspective, I’m not sure it is necessary to say, for example, I am a member of the Smith family instead of I am a Smith.

    I agree that clarification of the terms is important, not just semantic games.

    I appreciate your input in this conversation.

    e.
    To gather, have a good experience and talk about Jesus – is a good thing – but not necessarily church.

    You made a good point about commitment to mission. Many Sunday morning services also lack a commitment to mission and consist of nothing more than having a good experience and talking about Jesus.

    Mike,
    I am enjoying listening in also.

    Fr’nklin,
    Hopefully in the fight against who we are, we grow into who we are supposed to be.

    Alexander,
    I agree with you that God desires unity. There are times when the political structures of churches become an impediment to the relational values that God desires. I agree that this is a tragedy.

    I also appreciate your input in this conversation. I think it is helpful to all of us to exercise our thinking in these areas.

    traveller,
    Great points! Thanks for sharing. I’m totally with you on church as an organisim. I also want to restate your final point, we are ambassadors of the King and His kingdom.

    John,
    Amen! In light of what you said, would you then define the church as the collective of people who have entered into life in the Kingdom?

    Jeff,
    So true, we are the church for the sake of the world. We can’t forget that.

    inheritor,
    Great comments. We have to be very intentional to have the kind of shared life that you describe. Our culture and lifestyle aren’t necessarily conducive to developing relationships of that depth.

  39. Grace,
    Interestingly enough, in my case, I found that in fighting against who I was, and in trying to become who I thought I was supposed to be…I was becoming someone I never wanted to be.

    The truth is, my journey is no longer “forward”, but “backward”…back to my roots, back “home”, back to who I am, and who I was.

  40. Oh crap! Fr’nklin, are you saying I might be headed in the wrong direction?

    Forward or backward, direction seems irrelevant at this point for me. While I can’t see the future clearly enough to define it, I believe that I am no longer defined by my past.

    Hopefully my journey will continue in the path He has for me. I’m glad that yours has. :)

  41. Grace:

    “You made a good point about commitment to mission. Many Sunday morning services also lack a commitment to mission and consist of nothing more than having a good experience and talking about Jesus.”

    Completely agree with you on that one. It is a challenge to both established and new expression of church. But I do feel the commitment part is important to hold on to. And make another distinction: commitment doesn’t necessarily be the same as organized either.

  42. Ok, ok, ok already, so what is THE point of doing “church” anyway? Isn’t it supposed to be all about becoming more like HIM…letting HIM live life through me? I have NEVER in my 27 years of knowing HIM, ever loved HIM and people sooooo much! And, had so much FUN!, YES, I said FUN!! doing the Word of God…praying with and for people, spending time with Him, and simply “leaking” the love that He pours into me every chance I get! In short, if my going and not going to “church” is measured by the fruit it produces, then HALLELUJAH! I will never say never, but I don’t know how I could ever go back to “church”, when real life in Jesus is so much more fun & life giving! For this girl, there is no turning back, ‘cuz I am finally so lovesick for Him, that I will never be the same! Keep up the great dialogue, you are all amazing! K

  43. Grace, you made me laugh. I don’t have ANY doubts as to your continuing down the path he has for you. It’s always a pleasure to read your blog and see what He is teaching you. Thanks for letting all of us come with you on your journey. Kind of a spiritual voyeurism, huh?

  44. e.
    I really like the distinction you made. Commitment isn’t necessarily organizational.

    k,
    Thanks for sharing the joy and freedom that you are experiencing. I think regardless of our church experiences, it is important that we let Jesus’ love spill out through our everyday life onto the people around us.

    fr’nklin,
    It’s been such a blessing to have journey mates, for sharing my journey and for following the journey of others also. It is awesome to see God at work.

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