Monday, April 28, 2008
Here's the Church, Here's the Steeple....
IN our almost 17 years of marriage, Scott and I have lived in only two places, our first apartment for 18 months, and our first and only house that we live in now. In that same time, we've been members of four different churches. The number itself startles me....In my mind, we are not church-hoppers. But that seems like a lot of churches in a relatively short period of time.
At the beginning, we went to the church that Scott and his parents went to, a 400ish member church, with 200ish people attending each week. We started serving by teaching a 5th grade Sunday School class, helped with the high school youth group, served on boards, then taught the high school Sunday School class, and even taugh one series for adult Sunday School. We were there for seven years. After we had Luke, and Lars was getting to be pre-school age, we felt we needed to find a church in our community where we live. So, we made our first switch, moving to a church 5 minutes from home with great teaching that was part of a similar denomination.
Shortly after that, the denomination that Scott grew up in (the Evangelical Covenant Church) started a church plant in our town. We met with the folks in the core group, prayed long and hard, and felt called to be a part of that fledgling group. So, we made another switch.
The core group of that church plant never really grew big enough to sustain itself. After more than a year or so, we all had to let go of the dream that we felt sure God had given us. The outcome we had all pictured in taking that step of obedience wasn't what God had planned. Looking back, I can see without question that He was at work there and that we experienced tremendous growth. At the time, we were full of questions, and he gently guided each of us to different churches as we all had to make a switch.
Which led us to where we are now. Our fourth church. Our church is a "mega", "multi-site", "big box", whatever label you want to give it...church. It's not where we expected to be. It's wonderful in many ways. It's different from what we're used to in many ways.
And I wonder today, after reading a few blogs about church and getting all thinky about it, what is church really all about? I can get all heady and theological (are we emerging, missional, the value of the liturgy and so on...), or mushy and emotional (do we like it here, how does this or that make me feel....). What does it really boil down to? What did God have in mind for the church?
I'll tell you what I think, or at least the beginning of what I think. Jesus said to "go into the world and make disciples." I think the church is a place where we gather with others, all the different parts of the body, to get equipped to go out there and make disciples. It's a place where we get opportunities to make disciples right there in that building, and where we get encouragement to go out and do it. I'm not sure if God cares about the other stuff--the labels, the sizes, the comfort. I'd like to hear what you think, too.