If you could fly over America in a helicopter to get an aerial view of the church, what would she look like? I saw the most breathtaking view of the church I’ve ever witnessed while attending a weekend retreat with church leaders from around the country from every denomination and background. This diverse group of individuals gathered together to have honest conversations about the future of the church.
Here are just a few questions that drove our conversation...
- Do Non-Christians see Christians and the Church as judgmental and exclusive?
- Are we living in a post-Christian era? Why are so many of churches declining in membership?
- What can we do about the reality many of our churches face: financial difficulties leading to closure, mergers, or bi-vocational church staff?
- Are Non-Christians driven to or away from institutional and traditional forms of Church?
Here’s the aerial view and truths I walked away with through this experience...
Transcending time and space
Church is not something we do at 9:45 each Sunday morning. Christians everywhere aren’t just going to church; they are being the Church. Being the Church transcends time and space. Wherever believers glorify God in their workplace, we are being the church. Wherever believers have safe conversations about life and faith without judging or condemning, we are being the church. Wherever believers serve their neighbors, and love them well, we are being the church. Church is not a tradition, a place, a time, a denomination, or gathering. Church is the body of believers inviting all of God’s children into a loving relationship with God.
Dialects of eternal love
The Chinese Language has 7 major dialects, and these 7 groups have sub dialects. Just as there are many expressions of any language, there are today many expressions of church. One dialect of the Chinese language is not more Chinese or less Chinese. There is not an expression of the Church that is more sacred or less sacred. The many expressions and forms of church is not cause for division amongst the church, rather it is cause to celebrate an expansive and diverse church that is more dynamic and more beautiful than ever.
Church is happening everywhere: schools, coffee shops, homes, parks, theatres, and even bars! Yes Bars!!! There are traditional, home, conversation based, and social venture based churches. This diversity is a home run if you ask me. It makes us more and more like God our creator who is, in fact, Omnipresent. If we are going to introduce people to Jesus and grow his church, it requires us to be everywhere at once. We cannot be bound to one place, or one way, only one God.
The Bride of Christ
The Church is the Bride of Christ. This Symbolism of being his bride means that we are closest to him. Therefore his children, especially children who do not yet trust in him, we are to love as our own children, caring for them, and meeting their needs. Within the church I see Christ’s bride very much loving God’s Children. We all love in different ways, and meet needs in different ways, and this is absolutely breathtaking. As a parent I’m in awe when I see how other people express love for their children. My friends parent differently than I do, their expression of love sounds different and looks different, but I do not question that they are loving and caring for their children as much as I care for my own.
The church is expressing God’s love in beautiful, different, extravagant, new ways.
This was my aerial view of the church. What do you see? And in what ways are you being the church?
Theresa is a youth advocate, writer and speaker. She’s also a professional singer who has performed with Travis Cottrell and Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live conferences, Nicole C. Mullen, Truth and many others. She’s married to BUMC’s Worship Arts Director, Joe Mazza. Check out more from Theresa at theresamazza.com.