Monday, 2 January 2012
definitions on a postcard: 'church'
What is it?
How do we define it?
And how does the way in which we define it impact the way we are,
who we are,
what we do,
where we do it,
why we do it?
Do we too often recite the old familiar mantra: 'the church is not a building, it is the people who are church' but get too easily weighed down by the demands of bricks and mortar? Heating bills, insurance to pay, ongoing maintenance, roof repairs....
Do we meet together to worship God, or come and pay homage to an impressive building? Yes, this last question is pure rhetoric; it is not quite as black and white as this.
Is church about structure that goes beyond a physical building?
A structure involving a whole raft of whizz-bang programs and events, often trying to continue even as resources of people, time, skills, money, are depleted?
There's so much baggage with the word 'church' - the demands of upkeep, administration, organisation - occupy our minds and hearts to the point that we get into the way of thinking that church is about all this peripheral 'stuff'.
We sometimes get so caught up in this peripheral business: doing SWOT analysis, creating fundraising targets, putting the need for efficiency before all else, striving to be hip and relevant... whilst quietly feeling like we've not done enough, failed to achieve, have somehow missed the point, have tried and been found sadly wanting.
I wonder how we find a way to better fine-tune and clarify what we mean when we say 'church'?
A way that will help us not to confuse structures created to assist the work of the church and the demands of bricks and mortar, and of obligations towards our ecclesiastical framework, from what is actually the church... us?
I suspect, if we can, not only will be less weighed down and exhausted, we might have a little more time for God, and others.
This is just a rather simplistic starter for ten. More pondering to come....