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Idealism and Acceptance July 15, 2005

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.

“The problem with young people, people your age, is that they are too idealistic. Young people need to learn to accept some things are not perfect.”

This comment did not come a mean and crotchety old grump. It did not come from someone bent on maintaining the old order of things. It came from a loving and caring person concerned with the future of the church. We were discussing how to help our church grow, improve and be better.

“What I think it is going to take is to completely re-define the word ‘church.’ A free association of that word would conjure up an image of a church building or Sunday morning worship service. That’s not church.”

This comment did not come from some punk who wants to destroy the church as usual and reconstruct it in his own image. It came from someone who cares very much about the future of the church. It came from me, as you have probably already guessed.

This was a cross-generational conversation of two people who love God and love the church. We both see trouble, big trouble as the future presses in on us.

How do you get 1000 people to rethink church not just from what they have always known, but from what everyone they know has always known? How do you adjust centurues of inertia to a more functional and healthy track?

I think a consistent experience in small, missional communities of friends is a start. I’m not talking about adjunct small groups that are fit into schedules already obese with too much. I mean this is church. Sunday morning at the building is more like going to the commons that has some good stuff, but the real playing out of the church is in these little communities. Church is word more like “family” or “close friendship” than it is “building” or “worship service.”

In the same vein, I think a massive wave of church planting needs to happen – which is actually not all that different from what I said in the above paragraph. Yes, we need to plant churches within our churches in order to make the church accessible to people who do “go to church.”

On a side note, we say “go to church,” and it sounds normal, but we never say “go to family.” We are family, but we go to church. Please, tell me we don’t think of church as a building. We do.

We do not need to abandon the large gatherings. What we need to abandon is the idea that what happens there is the definition of church. That’s like saying what happens during a Christmas holiday is all that there is to being family, or celebrating a job promotion with a group of friends is all there is to a friendship.

Nope, the essence of family and friend is discovered in the daily, the routine, the common interactions. Special events are great, important, and I would say that they are necessary, but we make a deadly error when we identify and define these relationships only by these events. Community is the daily, not the occasional.

I don’t think that this is too idealistic. And even though I don’t like to argue on this level, it is far, far, more Biblical than building-centric, event-centric ecclesiology.



1. Jenni - July 15, 2005

Chris you put so eloquently the gist of so many conversations I’ve been having lately. Thanks!

One reason I love my church body sooo much is that it IS my family. So many of my favorite “church” times certainly didn’t happen inside that building.

2. Keith Brenton - July 15, 2005

I was just over at Adam Ellis‘ blog and realized how unBuilding-centric and unEvent-centric my view of eschatology is becoming.

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