November 14, 2005

Once Again Pondering church…

Posted in Uncategorized at 4:11 pm by tobytaff

The church I to which I belong is looking at having a more permanent home. Currently we are considering a building in downtown Abilene away from all neighborhoods. It is a good location, and would give the church a presence in a well traveled are and during Artwalk which is something we’d like to do. The issue for the building being a church however is that there is no community around it. There are no people to naturally draw from. There are neighborhoods in walking distance, and the Wooten around the corner, but generally this would be a centralized gathering place. As of now we meet 4 blocks north of this location on the fringe of the downtown neighborhood, so it really is not that different a locale.

This though has made me reconsider church again. I keep asking myself what is church (not the church, that is the body, but church as in the collective of the church)? And my answer keeps changing. The closest thing I can get to consistancy is to say that church is the gathering of christians. I tend to think it also reflects the community encompassed by the people, but that is arguable. I also beleive in the idea of missional church, that you live your faith in your world. Everything in your life should be consumed by your faith. I believe it is improper to segment church and world life. I’m 35, if I want a beer or a glass of wine or a fine cigar, I can have one and it should not be an issue of worldliness. So what does this have to do with reconsidering church?

I’m starting to think of church as more of a gathering place. I’m beginning to think that the view of church (not the church) as the place of ministry is just wrong. The early church gathered for the breaking of bread, to encourage one another, to learn and to share then went on about their lives; some hiding their faith in fear of retribution, some dying for what they believed, and some just remaining faithful and living life, yet we have made church so much more. It is in most minds the source of ministry so we give money to placate it and help it survive, but why? Shouldn’t church just be a gathering for encouragement, teaching, sharing and breeaking bread with friends and fellow christians? Other than around the doughnut table or coffee pot, when do we encourage and fellowship and share in church? The focus of church is listening to someone tell us their discoveries about the scripture, and the focus of Sunday school the teacher expounding on someone elses discovery of scriptural truths. I think we’re off the boat. I think church should be about the church. The church should be communicating how God is moving in the mundane and the miraculous, as well as engaging in learning. The central gathering should be about what God is doing “out there” in the 90+% of our lives. It should be sharing stories and things we learned as well as fellowship and teaching from the scriptures, and yet on Sunday miriads will go into a sanctuary and sit for 45min to an hour, throw a few coins at the plate to placate the finance committee, and then head for Sunday lunch feeling like they did their duty for God, and its all the fault of people like me, clergy who help perpetuate the system. Much like the structure in Washington, I think the church needs an overhaul.


1 Comment »

  1. Randy said,

    Toby I agree wholeheartedly, church has become lost in the shuffle and is in major need of an overhaul. According to one of our professors, one of the greatest challenges the church (Christian based organizational system) faces is finding a way to get men in the 20 to 50 age group involved and coming. The question I have is why would they come. Most sermons do little to provide encouragement, and after spending a hectic week at work, church ranks right up there with visiting the mother-in-law in terms of enjoyment. Anyone else prefer a trip to the dentist to visiting the mother-in-law?

    While church should ultimately be about worship not what one gets out of it, I contend that little of what is done on Sunday mornings is really worship. At lest not worship of God, there may be some worship of the institution or the preachers ego in some cases. Rather than focusing so much time on what amounts to a lecture, it seems that sharing what God is doing or spending the time actually doing things for others in the name of God might be preferable. For many of us who have little free time spending church working to help someone else could be every bit as worshipful as listening to a dry sermon and drifting off to all the things we need to get accomplished this afternoon. I don’t think there is an easy answer but we have to quit blindly following the same path that has led us to this point.

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