Thursday, 16 October 2008

What is church anyway?

Had another varied couple of days. On tuesday i met up with some people for coffee who i've known about for a few years but never met! Eventually i got to meet them - Joe & Hayley - a married couple in their twenties who originate from the Pendle area and after some years away sense God calling them back to this area with a fairly blank canvass and a lovely openess to obey whatever God lays on their heart. I felt as we were chatting in the fabulously unrivalled Coffee Culture in Barrowford - surely the world's best coffee shop? - some sort of kindredness with them. The three of us have a background in Methodism, have discovered God's grace for ourselves. They, like Laura and i have been married for around two years and we are both based in Pendle ultimately to serve God's purposes. We shared stories, drank good coffee and prayed together about what God might be doing in Pendle/East Lancashire. I left feeling i had been church with them.

So often i guess our mindset is about going to 'a church' rather than church being something we are and do every minute of the day by nature of us being followers of Jesus. Maybe when we ask someone we've just met about which church they go to the question should really be 'Who are you being church with?'

Contrast my experience in Coffee Culture with the Finance & Property Committee of one of my churches last night. A small gathering of faithful, dedicated, God-loving people who for many years have served the Lord in this particular location. As meetings go it was fairly positive - that wasn't the point - its just that we get consumed with the necessary business of running an institutioin that happens to have a building in our possession. Surely this wasn't what Jesus meant when He said 'I will build my church?' Which of these experiences were closer to the heart of church that we see in the New Testament? Are both mutually exclusive? I know institutions can be a vehicle for cohesion and organising what God is doing - there are many times when i have thanked God for the institution of the Methodist Church but all the time and effort that people put in now and have put in - is it all worth it? Would God have us do this? What are we building?

Anyway, after my rant am off to take a mid week service at Brierfield Church. The format consists of people enjoying fellowship and chat over coffee and wonderful tea cakes and then ironically it all stops for the minister to take 'a service' because that's what proper church is like!!!!


Anonymous said...


Great thoughts Gaz! Bless you heaps!

Adam Anderson said...

Inspirational stuff!

Sally said...

good thoughts- just found your blog after hopping around the net!

Keith said...

I too came across this by accident, but shall keep a regular watch now. Where I work for the library service we are trying to distinguish between "the library building" and "the library service", as there is so much you can do now through the service at home and round about without necessarily having to come into the building. As Gareth has said our "church", as opposed to merely our "church building", can and must operate in the same way?