I spoke at the Mission Shaped Ministry Course about “What is Church?”
we looked at who Christ is and who we are in relationship to him, he’s the vine we are the branches, he is the potter we are the clay, he is the good shepherd we are the sheep.
We are because he is, our identity is found in who Christ is.
What is Church? -I’d say Church is the plural of disciple.
Rowan Williams talks of an “intentional gathering around the person of Christ”.
Here is the Bible’s idea, not of what Church is, but what it does…
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved”.
Before that we look at Jesus calling the Apostles to himself and sending them out.
The Church is primarily about being a sent people.
As I thought more about being a ‘SENT’ people, I explored another wonderful picture here that the ancient Celtic Christians called “The Ancient Art of Breathing”.
The idea about receiving from Jesus (being with him) and then being sent out, breathing in (receive) breathing out (give) and being conscious is about breathing right, not a burned out breath or self indulgently gulping air into over inflated lungs rather than breathing out and sharing the blessing.
We thought of the shape of Church.
Up being directed towards worshipping God, sometimes Church are so much about the work of the Kingdom that we forget to worship the King!
Out, Church to a hurting and broken world.
In, to growth, teaching and transformation, and together in interdependence of the body of Christ.
I’ll end with three quotes:
“Be the Church where there is no Church!” WEC.
(And from John Piper, whom I’m not a massive fan of but like this quote) “Mission exists because Worship doesn’t”.
“The chief aim of man is to worship God and enjoy him for ever” Westminster Catechism.