As usual, Alan Knox of The Assembling of the Church has whet my appetite. In this post, Alan asks a great question about the “local church” and its place in Scripture.
I am reminded of some minor qualm I’ve had with my own “local church.” For the past year, my wife and I have volunteered extensively for the church, mostly in the area of student ministry. On Sunday evenings we led a Bible study for high school seniors. Once per month we helped in our churches larger student gatherings. Additionally, I teach a study for our college-aged folks. Needless to say, we’re “active”…and we like it that way.
Earlier this year, our church held a night of reflection to stop and consider the good work that the church has been doing in and around our community. On the announcements in the Sunday flyers, the event was billed as “for members only.” When I asked if we could attend, we were denied. I never quite understood this. I am unsure as to why a church would want to restrict access to such an event.
So, back to Alan’s question: what do you think of when you think of the “local church”? Is it a building on the corner? Is it a list of members?
In an ideal world, neither of these would matter. I’m often put off by the willingness of churches to build build build. Millions of dollars are being poured into church building projects just in my little enclave of southeast Texas. I like to challenge folks: What else could we do with that money?
Having studied archaeology and classical civilization over the last several years, I am struck by one overwhelming fact: structures are terribly impermanent. Millions of dollars for something that will one day be abandoned, burned to the ground, demolished, or forgotten seems like a waste when it could be used to foster relationships that blossom into eternity.
The “local church” shouldn’t be about buildings and members. It should be about relationships and community. Now…how do we go about that?