This morning, during my usual check of the Facebook world, I came across two articles…well, one’s a blog really. And I found them really thought-provoking and interesting. I’m about to start my first call, serving two churches in Portsmouth, VA who are struggling a bit – I’m part time at both – and are wondering with both excitement and fear what God has in store for them. And as I begin ministry with them, the thought on my mind these days is the question of defining church: “What is the church?”
The first article is about a pastor who dressed up as a homeless man the day he was to be introduced to the congregation, and did what I like to call a little “social experiment” with the congregation.
The second article is a blog about a pastor’s interaction with those outside the church, their perception of it, and how that’s affected him.
I’ll let you take a glance at these two articles, and I really hope you do: because it challenges and forces us to think about our definition of what church is, and who is included or excluded from church based on our definitions.
I’ll add my 2 cents by adding this: This is a question that those who lead in the church need to be thinking about. If things are to change in the church, it starts with leaders who preach, teach, proclaim, and embody the church in the midst of God’s people.
However, it’s also a question church leaders need to be pushing on their congregations, and wrestling alongside them in how we tangibly form our church communities out of those responses.
The bottom line: We can talk about what the church is, come up with multiple definitions until we’re blue in the face, and work towards the “best” definition possible, but it means nothing unless we’re willing to wrestle with what needs to come out of those definitions, and have the courage to move forward with them. And as leaders, that means having the courage to push the envelope with congregations. That is entering deeply into the life of humanity we’re called to serve, just as God in Christ Jesus entered deeply into ours on the cross – totally uncertain of how we would respond – uncertain of the outcome.
And that is moving forward as the church: in faith and love. Sure, we can’t be certain if people will respond or even come. But our call isn’t to get them to come: it’s to share the love of God inChrist Jesus with the world.
God’s blessings as you wrestle and consider what it means to be church…and how you’ll engage God’s people in living it out.
The “self-proclaimed official/non-official ELCA Lutheran Honeybadger.”
PS: Just thought I’d put that out there. (Shameless self-promoting plug) You can follow me on Twitter @Luthhoneybadger or on Instagram @Lutheranhoneybadger