Wednesday, August 29, 2007

More People Agree That the Church is Not a Building

Pastor David Kerr quotes Richard Halverson:

Dr. Richard Halverson, formerly the chaplain of the United States Senate, had just finished speaking in a seminary chapel service, when he was asked by some students, 'Where is your church?' Dr. Halverson looked quite perplexed and hesitated to answer. Then he glanced at his watch.

'Well, it’s three o’clock in Washington, D.C. The church where I preach is all over the city. It’s driving buses, serving meals in restaurants, having discussions in the Pentagon, deliberating in the Congress.' He knew exactly where his church was, and he went on and on with his lengthy listing. Then he added, 'Periodically, we get together at a building on Fourth Street, but we don’t spend much time there. We’re mostly in the city.'

Bill Kinnon echoed this idea in a post that criticized those who think of the church as a building first. Here's some of the preface material that explains Kinnon's motivations:

We grew weary from your Edifice Complex pathologies - building projects more important than the people in your neighbourhood...or in your pews. It wasn't God telling you to "enlarge the place of your tent" - it was your ego. And, by the way, a multi-million dollar, state of the art building is hardly a tent.

We no longer buy your call to be "fastest growing" church in wherever. That is your need. You want a bigger audience. We won't be part of one....

You offered us a myriad of programs to join - volunteer positions to assuage our desire to be connected. We could be greeters, parking lot attendants, coffee baristas, book store helpers, children's ministry workers, media ministry drones - whatever you needed to fulfill your dreams of corporate glory. Perhaps you've noticed, we aren't there anymore.

In such an environment, Kinnon makes the following declaration:

We are The People formerly known as The Congregation. We have not stopped loving the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Nor do we avoid "the assembling of the saints." We just don't assemble under your supposed leadership. We meet in coffee shops, around dinner tables, in the parks and on the streets. We connect virtually across space and time - engaged in generative conversations - teaching and being taught.

We live amongst our neighbours, in their homes and they in ours. We laugh and cry and really live - without the need to have you teach us how - by reading your ridiculous books or listening to your supercilious CDs or podcasts.

We don't deny Paul's description of APEPT leadership - Ephesians 4:11. We just see it in the light of Jesus' teaching in Mark 10 and Matthew 20 - servant leadership. We truly long for the release of servant leading men and women into our gifts as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. We believe in Peter's words that describe us all as priests. Not just some, not just one gender.

We are The People formerly known as The Congregation. We do not hate you. Though some of us bear the wounds you have inflicted. Many of you are our brothers and our sisters, misguided by the systems you inhabit, intoxicated by the power - yet still members of our family. (Though some are truly wolves in sheep's clothing.)

And, as The People formerly known as The Congregation, we invite you to join us on this great adventure. To boldly go where the Spirit leads us. To marvel at what the Father is doing in the communities where He has placed us. To live the love that Jesus shows us.

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Pastor David said...

Great post keeping on theme of the church is not a building. Thank you.