Like a Liver or a Big Toe

From Porterbrook:

Remember that the church is neither an end in itself, nor is it merely a means to an end…Church is a place where Jesus reigns and where people will catch a glimpse of people loving and serving one another. Church is God’s Kingdom with flesh on it. It is a glorious phenomenon.

The Crossing is a church plant, and one of the greatest personal benefits that I have received from being part of this church plant has been a greater understanding of what church actually is. That’s not to say that my previous church experience was devoid of this, but this reality has come into sharper focus as I’ve matured alongside this growing body.

In so doing, though, it has become rather easy to think of building the church as an end in itself. And when I notice myself thinking in this way, the pendulum swings (as pendulums often do) to the other side, which is isolation.

I regularly find myself way too focused on how to gather more people by meeting with them, inviting them to my Life Group, or to a Sunday gathering, or to any other church community related activity. This happens until I notice my ability to simply sit and adore Jesus has become severely diminished. The response to that is often frustration at my busy schedule (and the people who fill it) and a tendency to seclude myself from others so that I can have those personal quiet times in devotion. This usually continues until I notice that I’ve been so isolated from community that I get frustrated with myself yet again, and the cycle starts over.

Neither of these extremes is healthy, and I propose trying to strike a balance is not the answer.

Rather, what I think is right is for us to put Christian community in its proper context. Simply, church is the expression of God’s people as they come together to live in a community that models what reconciliation with God looks like by living with each other in a reconciled way. This means we can forgive each other (Ephesians 4:32), serve one another (Philippians 2:3-4), pray with one another (1 Thessalonians 5:17), speak the word to each other (Colossians 3:16), eat with one another (Acts 2:42), etc.

The church is a spiritual community. Therefore in order to have our spiritual satisfaction, it’s helpful to understand that our spiritual life is not confined to personal devotion time, though not to the utter neglect of that time. But is it possible that Christian community can be utilized for our growth in godliness in a more healthy and significant way than we typically conceive?

So what does this mean for our church context?

Firstly, we need to fight against the idea that church is something that you attend. Instead, church is something that you participate in. Like the liver participates in digestion and detoxification, or a big toe participates in balance. I have no body parts that merely attend my body.

Secondly, I want us to become a community that worships and enjoys Jesus through and with one another. The emphasis of the New Testament is that the church is the context in which worship, personal growth, community growth, and mission take place. This is in stark contrast to the popular view that spirituality takes place in one’s own quiet room or in the isolation of the mountains.

Let us consider whether or not there is something we could learn here that not only benefits our own personal walks, but also influences and builds the community of God that is The Crossing in Fort Collins.