For years, I’ve been uncomfortable with phrases like “going to” church and “doing” church and so on. I think that a better phrase is “practicing” church. To me, this works in two ways.
1. Just like doctors “practice” medicine, we too are called to be experts in ecclesiology and continually refining our craft, pushing ourselves to grow as experts and to offer a healing, hope-giving, practice of faith.
2. Taken literally, we must “practice” church for we fall so short of “doing” that at best we practice.
As a drummer, I practiced daily, and I mean DAILY. In high school, there wasn’t a class that I wasn’t either practicing or writing. Then, I would spend hours at home honing my skills. I wanted to be the best that I could (truthfully I also wanted to be the best period, but I grew up). After high school, I continually learned and grew as a drummer. I added kit playing, hand drumming, xylophone, marimba, all sorts of percussion. Then, I dove headlong into learning to play jazz, the blues, country even polka. I knew that without being able to play in different modes/feels, I would never be able to rise above my limitations.
The church is more than what we do, it is who we are. We are the bride of Christ, we are the whore who continually rejects their husband for “far less affectionate lovers.” We are (for good and for bad) one body that is Christ to the rest of Creation. I truly believe that we must move beyond programs and services and into “practice.” Our organizations should feel more like hospitals than self-help seminars. They should be an oasis for the thirsty, a resource for the poor and a food pantry for the hungry. The church needs to be the welfare system of the world. It has been said that the church is the only institution that exists for its non-members. That is true.
We have forgotten our first love, and traded it for ourselves. Look at most “churches” today and you’ll find 5 steps to … but you’ll rarely find a homeless person who has found a home.
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