Awakenings

Discovering raw authenticity & spirituality

I get really irritated when I hear people complain about certain things that they have the power to change.  One of these things is “church”.  I find it interesting when I hear people say things like “church this week just didn’t feed me” or “I don’t like going to that church cuz I feel like I’m working – I don’t get anything out of it.”  What gets to me is that these types of statements reveal that we don’t understand what church is.

What we don’t realize is that church does not consist in just a 1-hour-a-week service.  Church is not a building, it’s not a program.  It’s not a ceremony or a bulletin.  It’s not a song service or a sermon.  Church is not the carpet color, or whether there is a drum set on the stage.  Church is not who’s wearing what, or whether the pastor is male or female. Church is not the Republican party.  The concept of church is on a whole different level.

Church consists of every moment of my life.  I carry church with me where ever I go.  I am church.  You are church.  We are church.  It is not a thing outside of me that is provided for me that I sit back and critique like a movie columnist.  It’s not a spectator sport where I cheer from the sidelines or the grandstands while wearing my team’s colors.  It’s not a spiritual restaurant where I can hopefully get “fed”, and if I don’t, I can write a review warning all my peeps out there of its lack of “real food”.   If there is something wrong with church as I see it, it is up to me to change it and do something about it – cuz I am church, as well as you.  If there is a problem, we are all responsible for it because we are church. Wherever we go.

Every moment of every day has the potential of the divine.  The random moments of the day are significant holy possibilities waiting to be realized and grasped and turned into acts of worship.  The way I treat my colleages; how I respond to my spouse after a long day of work; what I choose to spend my money on and how it will effect those on the other end of the supply chain; treating every human I come in contact with, with the dignity and sacredness they deserve.  These are just a few examples of what it looks like to be church in the humdrum moments of life.  And even when the 1-hour service comes along once a week, it’s just 1 hour in my day, of my week, of my reality of being church!  It will be then that the 1-hour service traditionally known as “church” will begin to look like a different gathering, as all people present will actually be the church instead of sit in church.

So what do you do if you have a problem with “church”?  I like what Shane Claiborne says:  “We need to stop complaining about the church we’ve experienced and work on becoming the church we dream of.”  I would go even further and say that we become the church God dreams of.  Because God has already told us what church is and what it means and what it looks like.  It’s us humans who have screwed things up.  It’s time to set it right again, and this starts when we realize that church happens every moment of every day wherever I show up – because I, and you, and we are the church.

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5 thoughts on “Be the Church

  1. So here are my questions:

    I don’t really understand Church anymore. When I was new and thirsty, it all served a purpose. It allowed me to learn and interact and grow. But once I had learned the “spiel”, it all starts to be repetative and formal. This is unfortunately an undeniable aspect of church. I suspect that what people are looking for has little to do with not being fed, but a lot to do with formalism and the lack of connectedness.

    So how do we approach this subject? I have thought long about this and read many effective ideals but have not seen any “structure” that works long term. And the greatest fear is the lack of control. What if small groups were the basis of connectedness. What if structure was not in place. Then new believers wouldn’t receive indoctrination. Then the leaders would come up with new ideas that contradict our positions of various issues. then there would be clicks and conflicts.

    These are all valid aspects of alternative design. The pulpit is like a tiny University where we come together as a body, united by single trains of thought. And the congregation is a good place to rub shoulders with people we would never want to hang with outside of forcibly. Which can be good things. But how to defeat formalism? How to be connected without having to be a local pillar?

    Church, in the traditional catholic worship style if we must, for me, is tedious. granted, I like to teach, so it is hard listening to some intellectual, non-spirit led homily, that you could teach yourself. But for me, “ekklesia”, or coming together, has always been Sabbath School, Potluck, after sundown activities, outings, and vespers/prayer meetings. These are places of authenticity. These are places of fellowship. This is where we overcome by the word of our testimonies. But the stand up, sit down, sing, pay, pray, preach section, unfortunately, I can’t stand it, I have really tried to like it, but the formalism suffocates me, and in an effort to survive the ADD attacks, try to do something else until the sermon begins.

    I would love to see some dialogue on here as to what actual ideas for alternative worship could be. Here are some that I have tried or at least thought about over the years.

    1. up in the mountains worship service
    2. an outdoor sanctuary for those nice days out
    3. Small groups meeting in homes for church, no church at all, only community gathering once a quarter, at a public rented place.
    4. Sabbath School as the main part of service then sermon only at times when good testimony and or teaching is present rather than week after week of forced homily.
    5. lets hear some ideas!!!

    1. legitfaith says:

      Thanks Shayne. I really enjoyed reading your response to this. I agree with you and I like some of your suggestions. I really like the renting a building in a public place. No dress up. No politics. Good stuff. You know, you could plant a church!

  2. John says:

    I love this post, thank you for opening my eyes on this. what an awesome and totally humbling concept, that we are the church. every moment of life… powerful stuff.

    1. legitfaith says:

      Thanks John! I can’t wait to read your next blog entry! Thanks for being church to me!

  3. Rika says:

    Hi Krystallyn,

    Thanks for bringing all of this up-this question has haunted me my whole life, especially in that time when I became an adult and began to see the church with less of a “Entertain ME!” mindset, and I yearned to be a part of something MORE. When I was 19 I worked at a little church plant that was going through the “Purpose Driven Church” series and I really began to realize that God has called this body to be so much more! That the leadership was only there to act as a guide and the body needed to step it up and take ownership.

    For those who don’t know, basically the book suggests that we are called to 5-purposes both in our lives, and as a church body; fellowship, worship, ministry, discipleship, and mission. This idea was astounding to me because it showed me that if a church body is heavily focussed on one or two of the areas, other areas will suffer. A church can have a powerful worship band, great speaking, and good offering appeals (ha!), but if it’s lacking in ministry, or if there is no connected-ness among the body, then it’s broken.

    The church that I was a part of that year sparked this lay-person passion in me, as I witnessed other members not saying to themselves, “well from 9-5 I work and then at night I’m at home and Sabbath will be my ‘church’ time”, but they prayed regularly for God to take the Light into every minute of their lives to bring the “church” to everyone they met. They were no longer constrained by the implication of the word “church”.

    I want to be there too. And I think it takes a body that is willing to admit it’s faults but humbly seek the heart of God to change. It takes more than one person to carry that calling. And it’s not all on the pastor.

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