Sunday, May 09, 2010

Going to or gathering with?

Words have meaning.

It is early and our little brood is still begrudgingly stirring. We normally wake them up with "Time to get ready for church!". Is that what we are doing? Alan Knox addressed this question earlier in the week and I think it is important that we don't just get up and go through the motions on Sunday, even if those motions seem very pious.

The building we are heading to is not the church. Everyone at least acknowledges that in words but so much of what we do, the rhythms of church life, negate that simple truth. Take for example a recent post by Tim Challies, intended to be a helpful list of things we can do to prepare for Sunday morning and especially be attentive to the sermon ("Get a good night's sleep so you can be sharp and energetic to worship and serve God. It's hard to listen when you're nodding off."). The fact is that we don't see going to a particular place at a particular time to hear someone speak for forty five minutes as the pinnacle of the church gathered anywhere in Scripture.

The purpose of gathering is to get together with the church, not to go somewhere to be the church. Christians are the Church whether we meet in a building, or in a home or out in a meadow somewhere. We are not more the Church because we are in a particular place or listening to an expository sermon or wearing our Sunday best.

This may seem like I am splitting hairs but given how deeply incorporated into the surrounding secular culture the church experience is, we need to be careful and intentional with how we use words.

Now if you will excuse me, I need to go put a tie on and get ready for church.

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