If you could fly over America in a helicopter to get an aerial view of the church, what would she look like? I think it would look a lot like the breathtaking view I saw while attending the Future of the Church Summit at Group. Here are the takeaways I took with me…
1. The dialects of eternal love. The Chinese Language has seven major dialects, and these seven groups all have sub-dialects. Just as there are many dialects in any language, there are today many ways to gather as “church.” There is not an expression of the church that is more sacred or less sacred. The many expressions and forms of church is not cause for division amongst the church—rather, it is cause to celebrate an expansive and diverse church that is more dynamic and more beautiful than ever.
2. The omnipresent church. Church is happening everywhere—schools, coffee shops, homes, parks, theaters, and even bars! There are traditional, home, conversation-based, and social-service-based churches. This diversity is a home run if you ask me. It makes us more and more like God our creator who is, in fact, omnipresent. If we’re going to introduce people to Jesus and grow his church, it requires us to be everywhere at once. We cannot be bound to one place or one way—we are bound only to one God.
3. The transcending of timeand space. Church is not something we do every Sunday morning—we don’t go to church, we are the Church. A mindset on being rather than going means we transcend time and space. Wherever believers glorify God in their workplace, we are being the church. Wherever believers have safe conversations about life and faith without judging or condemning, we are being the church. Wherever believers serve their neighbors and love them well, we are being the church. Church is not a tradition, a place, a time, a denomination, or a gathering. Church is the body of believers inviting all of God’s children into a loving relationship with God.
4. The primacy of the Bride of Christ. The Church is the Bride of Christ, and this symbolism means we’re closest to him. Therefore, we are to love his children, especially the children who do not yet trust in him. We love them as our own children—caring for them and meeting their needs. My friends parent differently than I do. Their expressions of love sound different and look different, but I don’t question that they are loving and caring for their children as much as I care for my own. The church is expressing God’s love in beautiful, different, extravagant, new ways. ◊
Theresa is a longtime church youth pastor who planted and led a Rocketown community outreach center when she lived in Florida. She’s on our Simply Youth Ministry Conference speaker team, presenting three workshops in Indianapolis (youthministry.com/symc).