We Don’t Go to Church

The church is not a building; it is the family of God on his mission.

“We’ll see you at church on Sunday… are you bringing your friend from work?” hollered Shari as she walked across the parking lot.

“What do you mean?” Mark playfully responded.

“You are going to church next week aren’t you?”

“I’m planning on seeing you this weekend, but I’m not going to church. In fact I am never going to church again!”

Shari looked puzzled.

“If you mean, am I going to the building where the church gathers together this Sunday, I am hoping to.”

“You know what I mean.. are you messing with me?” Shari shot back.

Mark opened up his car door and grabbed a napkin out of the glove box. Let me show you something Shari. It may seem obvious, and I’ve only got a minute before I have to go, but this is kind of a big deal really.

Mark started out by drawing a simple picture of a building with a cross on top.

“This is what most of us growing up have come to refer to as the church. A building. The place where Christians go, usually on Sunday, to worship and listen to the preacher.”

Mark added arrows pointing toward the building as he talked, indicating people heading to the building together on Sunday.

“But the Bible never ever describes the church as a building. It always refers to the church as a people—God’s people, in Christ—who are now sent by the Holy Spirit out into all of life to be the body of Jesus.

Mark added another simple drawing to the right of the first one that showed a group of people with arrows indicating outward movement.

“I think this is a better picture of the church; a people who are sent by God… who are outward focused. Certainly not a building, or contained within four walls for an hour or two each week.”

Shari ran her hand through her hair and responded, “We don’t go to church… we are the church. I like it. But maybe that’s just semantics.”

“Maybe but I think it is more important than that. It might just be the beginning of straightening out our thinking about who we really are as Christians. Does going to that building on Sunday—or any other day—make us a Christian or a child of God? No, it doesn’t. I am not sure when in history we started referring to a building as “the church”, but it’s pretty bad theology and has only added to the pattern of doing our religious activities and living out our faith apart from our culture. We live separate from those in our city or neighborhood who need to hear and see the Gospel in action so they can believe. So they can experience Jesus.”

“I can see that.” Shari said, “And I don’t want my kids growing up thinking that the church is just a place we go on weekends or during the week for Awana meeetings. I want them to see themselves the way Jesus does. They are the church. Everyday, wherever they are.”

“Cool. I am working hard to change my thinking on this… I think it matters. Anyway, I still plan to see you on Sunday when the church gathers together. And I hope my friend will be there to meet you. See you then Shari!”

3 Questions:

1. What is God saying to you right now in light of this?
2. What will you do about it? When?
3. Who else do you need to share this with?

Taken from the book Be the Church by Caesar Kalinowski and Seth McBee