I saw a quote somewhere on facebook today that read something like this: “a church that lives within its walls is no church at all”. While I agree with that statement in principle, I’m not sure what we often mean by it, why we say it, or how it plays out into actionable reality. Here are my observations:
1. It’s based on a faulty assumption. The statement implies that the church is primarily a building, an organization, and a predetermined meeting time.
2. There are commands in scripture to both meet corporately, and serve individually and corporately. The implication is that meeting is somehow less “missional”, and that a church who is actually living its mission will not meet to worship, read the bible, pray, take communion, etc.
3. You cannot program service.
4. The focus is more on what we “do” for Christ, than what we ask him to do in/for/through us.
5. Religion is defined by what I can do for acceptance, or inclusion. Whether that religion is based on church service attendance or service hours logged in my calendar, it’s still religion, and it’s still legalistic. I’m not interested in trading one religion for another.
6. I’m not at all comfortable with the idea of, “it’s one or the other, but not both”. Occasionally canceling the normal service on Sunday am to work at a soup kitchen (not randomly, but one you already have a relationship with) would be great. Canceling it all together proclaims a false gospel to people: “do this in order to merit acceptance”.
7. Depth is not solely contained in sunday morning. One worship style, or preaching/teaching style, is not deeper than another. It’s just different, and is about taste, and preference (maybe even personality). Depth is shown by what happens monday through saturday. If you’re so deep that you need programmed service opportunities on sunday, you’re fooling yourself. Sunday is our one chance to meet. Every other day provides a myriad of opportunities to serve.
8. The church is the people who are adopted children of God, through Jesus – not a building, meeting time or organization. So the only “walls” to the church, are the one’s we construct around ourselves, emotionally, spiritually, relationally and benevolently. The only walls to break down are the ones we’ve constructed around our own hearts and our own eyes.