This past year God has been teaching us a lot about “who is your church”. If pressed, a lot of people would probably answer, I don’t know… many of us knowing full well that there is at times a gap between the group of people that formally pass as our church, and the rather amorphic group of people we truly feel like we are joined with… that group which inspires us to keep going on with God, the group of people that we feel intimate spiritually with.
Maybe you don’t feel like you have anybody to be intimate with spiritually. Maybe you are a person who is searching for a group of people to connect with. Maybe you are in a formal gathering known as a church and still wonder if you are in the right place.
While each one of our churches will look different in size and nearness, it still seems important to know who those people are.
Finding out who our church is is also needs a lot of patience, because what He is building is very dynamic and fluid than what many of us have been accustomed to… and for some of us will take time, maybe even a few years to become something that feels like church to us. The more we travel and talk with different people, the more we have started to notice that there are A LOT of people currently living in the uncomfortability of doing something or being with people that doesn’t have a name or an official connection to anything that looks like church. For the most part, most of these people are exactly where God has them… and the important thing for everyone is to be patient.
Many of our close friends have never “belonged” to a formal, institutional setting–i.e., have not “gone to church” (meaning, attended a meeting in a building that is for a church) and find most of their spiritual life growing in ways that have yet to be named. Others have been looking for alternatives to traditional church settings. All of these seekings represent the increasing yearning of many Christians to have authentic, living, breathing relationships with others.
A friend of mine and her husband recently felt led to leave their church… finding themselves in the midst of those same questions, “who is my community, my church,” and so on, while also craving real friendships that help support the constant ministry they are always doing out of their home. Not long after she received a ministry letter from someone who did a radio program in which she addressed “out of church Christians”. The radio program resulted in an outpouring of letters and calls from all kinds of believers who felt that they were in that place… many of them seemed to be from very traditional church backgrounds. God is obviously doing something big in the church, and not just on the crazy margins, but in the mainstream parts of Christianity, too.
I realize that in some more traditional parts of the church this is a very hot topic, while in my circles it is not, but overall there is no denying that something is shifting and changing in the life of God’s people.
There are many truths and realities that the first-century church was walking in–and many of them were lost not two centuries out. History shows that God has been restoring, one by one, truths about himself and his kingdom into the body. The reformation was probably the biggest and first major restoration–that of the priesthood of all believers. This was such a life-changing wind in the church that it really affected all of western civilization. Many things have been restored since and with greater acceleration, as the church rushes toward the end of the age.
In just the 20th century we have seen a full-blown restoration to the church the truths of speaking in tongues, the gifts of the spirit, evangelism, the five-fold ministries… Derek has written some pieces around restorational truths if this subject is new to you, or you wanna learn more: the longest article ever by derek and five restorational seeds.
Right now we are in the midst of one of these major restorational moves of God. Especially in the last 10 years, He has been a restoring to the body a living knowledge of what it means to be the mystical body of Christ–what does being the mystical church, the “body of Christ” actually mean? What is the spiritual house of God, worldwide? This is why Ephesians has suddenly gotten so popular, too, as it really is the major revelation in the Bible on what it means to be the mystical house of God.
It is also why many movements like cell groups, house churches, intentional communities, the emergent metaphors and other interdenominational networks are happening all around the church–these all contain seeds of this restorational truth. And for the most part, they are genuine movements of God to bring new light, fresh wind into His people. Many of them are correctives, serving to remind the church that she is of course not a building of rocks but living stones, breathing, connected and transcending buildings and boundaries between people.
So this is the first of a few things I’m going to post through the next couple weeks on the church… hopefully it will encourage us all, and shed some light on who your church is… and give some hope for the future!