Monday, January 11, 2010

What Is Church?

Since joining the church planting team of The Sanctuary Pickering (it would be two years ago now!), we have been constantly grappling with the question of what church should look like in our culture --- in our day and age --- in order to reach the vast majority of people who aren't church goers.

So today I am asking this question here on my blog... what is church? This blog post is really fueled by a very interesting discussion I had yesterday with a fellow Sanctuarian. We were "doing church" at the Pickering Markets on a Sunday morning; going to where the people are and not staying where we are comfortable. While there, we were asking ourselves: "Is this church?"... hence the interesting discussion.

First off, the answer is: "Yes, being at the Pickering Markets is definitely church!" We connected with a variety of people who we wouldn't have normally met if we stayed at our regular meeting place week in and week out. Now, that many more people know where to find us if and when they feel spiritually hungry!

How else can church look like in our community today? Well, a few things we have done as the Body of Christ are: food drives, visiting seniors' homes, helping out at city-run events, park/neighbourhood garbage clean up, organizing low-cost summer sports programmes, weekly sports drop-in, fundraising for community agencies, serving Christmas dinner to families affected by AIDs/HIV, family free skates...

I can list more things but I think the point is made... so long as these things are done in Jesus' name, then I do believe for certain that we are being the church! For it says in Matthew 18:20: "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

The verse definitely does not say... for where two or three come together to sing, listen to a sermon and pray, there am I with them. Don't get me wrong... I am not at all against a formal worship service! In fact, I think it is very important for us Christ-followers to gather in such a manner. But, we can not just do that. We have to give ourselves away.

This is an analogy that I've often used... just like in real life, if you keep eating (inreach) without exercising (outreach), you will grow but you will not be healthy --- you will most certainly grow bigger, but not healthier. Doing outreach, just like exercising, is hard work; but it will allow us to grow healthier spiritually. Just like exercising, if it isn't done routinely, it is tough to get into the groove of it. But, it is a must-do in order to be healthy!

After two years of being a part of The Sanctuary Pickering, I can most definitely say that I have grown in ways that I couldn't have imagined before. And, I credit it to the fact that this church helps me to give myself away through outreach while providing opportunities for me to nourish myself at the same time.

And for that, I am a better person!

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