Monday, July 30, 2012
Not searching for a "perfect church"
Those of us who are part of this perfect church must nevertheless find ways to relate to one another because that is how we are strengthened and encouraged, that is how new believers are equipped and shown by example what to do, older believers are renewed and all of us are supposed to be stirred up to good works. Where the rubber hits the road is how this occurs and it certainly seems to be the case that the very reasons for the local gathering to happen, listed above, are not happening with any sort of regularity. The evidence for that is all around us and most of us get it to some extent but the "solution" is always to reshuffle the things we are already doing in the hopes that if we move them around we can make a tower out of marbles. I reject the notion that all we need to do is tweak the particulars without confronting the core assumptions.
I think we really need to stop thinking about the church in terms of local, exclusive assemblies that are loosely related in theory but not in any practical sense with one other, local or globally. Those local gatherings certainly are an important part, even a critical part, of the Christian life but I believe we have elevated our own local groups to an unhealthy, almost obsessive and even idolatrous extent. When Christians start every conversation with another Christian they just met with "where do you go to church", it speaks volumes about where our focus is.
The solution is not some sort of top down authoritarian hierarchy ala Rome or Salt Lake City. Nor is it a never ending series of competing local churches that not only don't fellowship or cooperate with one another but instead see one another as competitors for the scarce resources of people, influence and money. I am not ever sure I know or begin to understand what the solution is. I am sure that I am completely disinterested in being part of the problem.
I am not sure that helps to clarify anything but there it is.