On Monday I asked the question, “What is the Church?”
The answers some of you provided were all pretty solid. But they left me wanting.
Most of them took the tack of either describing the “real” church vs. something else, or the “localized” body vs. the larger all inclusive body. What I’m struggling with is the fact that almost everyone I know immediately takes the global body of believers and breaks it down into something more manageable.
I think we do it because we don’t see the global body functioning like one.
The trouble with that is that we go to a denominational distinction, or a theological distinction that separates, divides, sorts out rather than including and fostering unity. But should we be fostering unity? Yes, yes I know the New testament calls believers to unity in the faith but as soon as you start talking ecumenical-ism people get all fired up and start worrying about the One World Church of the Anti-Christ!!
In order to avoid THAT entanglement people start to talk about individual faith. Which leads to comments about individual faith experience, which leads to existentialism, which leads to Nietzsche, which is NEVER fun.
And while we’d like to think we don’t go THAT far…what about comments like these:
- “We’re church shopping at the moment”
- “The Bible calls us to give financially and you really ought to give where you’re being fed.”
- “We really enjoy more of a contemporary service.”
- “We’re looking for deeper teaching on Sunday.”
Nothing necessarily wrong with those right? Except that they sound an awful lot like someone trying to select a great restaurant: Right for the occasion, value for your food dollar, ambiance, interesting menu…
Is it possible that we’ve become so good at consuming that we’ve fit church into our shopping basket mentality too?
Before you go condemning the consumer wholly, (I REALLY wanted to typo there and go with Holy), you have to ask if the church models through which we browse doesn’t in some ways facilitate such thinking.
Churches can’t exist without offerings and we’ve all known church leadership folk who have bemoaned a congregation that isn’t giving and we’ve all heard THOSE conversations start to talk about the services the church provides and what might need to be cut if giving doesn’t come up…which sounds a lot like restaurant management conversation.
Please don’t hear me casting blame in ANYONE’S direction here. I’m just trying to sort it all out in my own head, but it seems to me we’ve gone off track somewhere along the line. If we’re all a part of the body, one body, with one head, what does that look like?
Maybe I asked the wrong question the first time. Maybe the question isn’t What is the Church. Maybe the question is:
Are “The Church” and “The Body” the same thing? If they are, why so many bodies?