Do you go to a church? Where do you go to church? What's happening at the church this week? Were you "in church" last week? We've all heard these odd questions expressed. Odd? Why are they odd? Because, it illuminates a dangerous misconception of what the word 'church' actually means.
The preceding questions are always asked in the context of a 'church' being a physical building, which is a very human viewpoint. But, biblically, a church is a group of Christians who come together to learn, grow, play, serve, share the Word, and support each other through thick and thin.
Jesus proved that church, His body; can be anywhere, anytime. In fact, He went out of His way NOT to use a building to house His ministry. In fact, in Matthew He said He would destroy the existing stone temple and replace it with Himself (the body of Christ). He had no home to call His own, no place to lay His head at night, no temple, no synagogue and no office. That would have been too constraining for His ministry. His goal was never to coax people to any particular place for worship, teaching or to just hang out. Maybe He thought that would be too inhibiting for all involved. Who knows ~ after all, God's ways are not our ways.
Instead He chose to move around, and meet people where they lived, ate, worked and played. He built relationships with them, on their terms, on their turf, in their homes and along the sandy roadways; which was often enemy territory. Jesus lived and taught in the trenches.
I'm not saying we don't need worship centers. What I am saying is words matter. What we say and how we say it matters, and in the long run the words we use influence what we believe. Our culture has been lured into depersonalizing "the church" and turning it into a building. The result is that people often abdicate their responsibility for "being the church" and dump it in the lap of the church building's pastor, staff or upper administrators who embrace having that power and authority. We must guard against this insidious mindset.
The body of Christ, the church, is called upon to equip its' members for every good work and then to go out in the world ~ and be the church, not just stay in a building and do church. The church is not a place anymore than a flock of birds is a nest. The church is a people, the people of God, Christians who gather together as the Spirit leads, and where the Spirit leads. The church is a living, breathing, inspired body of believers, a living organism that comes together to worship, learn, grow, play, serve and share grace with the world wherever they are. Anywhere, anytime Christians come together in His name for any reason... that IS church!
"... Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house." 1 Corinthians 16:19 (NIV)