by Demi Prentiss
Christians aren’t commissioned to “go” to church. Christians are meant to BE the church. Yet, in many faith communities, we are taught that we need permission, or facilitation, or membership, or professional guidance to participate in Christ’s mission.
Benjamin Corey’s blog challenges that standard definition of church:
LIE: Church is something you do on Sundays.
That thing you attend on Sundays? That’s not church– that’s a corporate worship service, and they are not the same thing. It is part of the thing, but not the thing itself.
Church wasn’t originally about corporate worship as much as it was about doing life together. It’s about community. Helping one another. Walking together through all of life’s ups and downs. In fact, the early church was so dedicated to this that they practically met daily– they needed each other.
They shared meals together. They prayed together. They talked about their days, celebrated in the beautiful moments, and uplifted one another during the hard moments. They were inseparable friends, because Church was designed to be a committed community.
In this way, “church” has nothing to do with a building, very little to do with a worship service on Sundays, but is actually more about having a circle of committed friends who are dedicated to walking through life, together. It’s about having a group of people in your life who you know will never leave you stranded and alone, no matter how hard life gets, or how badly you screw up.
The truth is that church is the web of relationship, the community that equips us to be Christ’s body in the world. Wherever we find ourselves, our baptism means we are to stand up for what Jesus stood for: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, standing with the marginalized, welcoming the stranger, resisting injustice, and always, always embodying the love that the world thirsts for.
Being part of a church can help us do that. But anyone who chooses to stand with Jesus may do so, regardless of whether they are members of a church community. And being part of the Jesus Movement means, in the words of James the Just (Acts 15:19), “So here is my counsel: we should not burden these outsiders who are turning to God.” In addition to praying for “those whose faith is known to [God] alone” (BCP p.391), we might just want to seek them out and partner with them.