This is Church
I’ve been to lots of pastor conferences in my day. I’ve also read way too many books and articles about the current state of the Christianity in the world. At nearly all of these conferences and in nearly all of these books and articles there exists a common theme: The Church is on the decline. I’m not sure why people need to keep making this point. I get the sense that all of our discussion about the struggles of the church isn’t actually helping make the church any better. And yet still, this topic is mentioned in magazines and on blog posts and at various assemblies.
But as I see all this “bad news” being broadcast about the state of the church in 2019, I’m reminded of all the Good News that is still happening throughout the world.
“And do not let yourselves be conformed to this world, but let yourselves be transformed by the renewal of the mind, so that you discover what is the will of God, good, and pleasing and perfect” - Romans 12:2
Several years back, I led a Mission Trip in New York City for ten young adults ages 19-28. Our Mission Trip had a simple yet powerful subtitle: “This is Church”.
In New York City we took part in an eye-opening experience that showed us not only what church is, but what church can be.
We listened to a presentation from the Lutheran World Federation about their work at the United Nations and we said, “This is Church.”
We toured St. Paul’s Chapel and saw how that congregation responded to the needs of rescue workers after 9/11 and we said, “This is church.”
We invited people in Brooklyn to take part in a collaborative art project and said, “This is church.”
We left messages of God’s love on post-it notes and with sidewalk chalk throughout the city, we handed out water in Central Park, we helped out at a nursing home, we planted trees -- and each time we said, “this is church”.
But you don’t need to go on a Mission Trip to remember this powerful message. When you respond with compassion and forgiveness, or when you listen to a person’s struggles and pains, or anytime you bring the love of God to a person or situation-- that is church also.
I am convinced that we must stop talking about all the things that the church is not. Instead, we need to celebrate what the church actually is and has always been: you and me.
Every minute of every day we are the church and we have the responsibility to share the promises of God in big and subtle ways alike.
May we forever embrace the opportunity to be the church. Amen.