Modern church is a mess; but not an ugly mess, more like the acceptable mess of your room when you were in high school. Yeah it wasn’t pretty and it could use some work but hey, at least i know where stuff is, right?
The fact that the mess is acceptable at some level is cause for enough alarm and a clue that maybe we are not doing something right. While I agree there is room for a little clutter, a little messiness, still the whole thing shouldn’t be a spaghetti wrap of ministries, people, and missed opportunities, should it? Church should be something beautiful (broken and beautiful), it should be interactive and not relegated to a room or website “mission statement.” It should be vibrant, so i’ve gotten away from calling it church altogether, the word church to me is a misdirection of the “idea” of ekklesia. We should be “living” toward something not “going” to a building. So for lack of a better term (most people give me curious-frowny-face-eyes when i say ekklesia anyway) I say community to catch that whole package.
It’s a place [regionally defined],
a people [personally interactive],
and an idea [wholly shareable?].
I’m attracted to community because it embodies my ideal situation, which is, “living with others to effectively grow closer to God and my own purpose while experiencing life to the fullest.” For me that community is in portions at this point in my life but I hope to live toward making it all encompassing. I want to go dancing, to listen to live bands, to encourage others to live out their dreams all within the safe and open arms of the gospel and a gospel-centric people.Now to get to that place I’m going to need leaders. And leaders grow, I see leadership like the apostles… just dudes living and learning together how to effectively impact the place they live… some stay and build, others go and build somewhere else, there is no competition, it is cooperative and self-reproducing (some would even say “organic”). This type of leadership doesn’t require intense financial backing or ornate strategy sessions, it requires a call from God and a passion for unity. That’s it, passion, unity and the call.
So maybe i’m crazy but just living with people out in the open, no building, no central ideal, just living and breathing and invading already defined spaces (work, parks, schools, theaters, shopping centers) maybe that’s the way to go? I want that, I want those places, I want redemption to matter there, not enclosed in a sanctuary.
I’m reminded of the temple courts, how the lepers and the beggars and blind would sit outside the outer-courts and pray that people going inside would have mercy on them (since God was obviously punishing them huh) and religious people would have to walk over them into the temple court, and then the ultra-religious would go on into the inner-court, and the leaders would even breach into the holy place… and then Jesus comes along! …and He brings the holiest place outside into the open and heals lepers and redeems hookers and IRS agents and gives courage to cowards and morals to scoundrels… that’s the gospel I want to live out toward others, one that stands among the people and makes dirty things clean, profane things pure, weak things strong!
The gospel is God’s redemptive work through the cross of making those who are from from Him closer day by day by simple belief and reliance on grace.