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The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.

Over the past few years, I have been going throught a shift in my thinking about ‘church’ where I now think more about what it means to be a member of the Church as opposed to a church. I was thinking about this yesterday at the FaithWorks brunch, realizing that although I may only have the opportunity to be active in this particular faith community for a couple of years, God is teaching me more about the Church and what it means to be a part of it through this experience.

For example, I learned yesterday that FaithWorks has intentionally not invested in property. Some people may ask ‘why’? Would it not be a good idea to acquire a building where the people of the church can meet for services and programs, to establish a structural presence withing the community?

The rationale [and I tend to agree with it] is as follows: as vital as corporate worship is, the weekly gathering is but one aspect of the outworkings of the faith community. The Church is meant to ‘move into the neighborhood’ so to speak, to be a force in our communities every day of the week. Instead of having one central location where all the programs take place, the body of Christ is to extend itself out into the community; into homes, workplaces, schools, coffee shops, community centres, backyards, parks etc. This is where the impact of the faith community is meant to be felt. We are meant to be actively engaged in the lives of the people around us as loving neighbors. I’m not saying that this is impossible to accomplish for established churches with big buildings, but I think it’s easy to become comfortable and stagnant within those four walls.

Some people may not agree with this thinking, but I love it. It’s downright liberating when you think about it; the ability to think about Church in the context of your entire neighborhood as opposed to one solitary building. That’s beautiful.

Any thoughts?

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  1. Nice way to look at it.
    We are doing the entire Gospel of John right now at theStory and when we looked at that phrase (in the Message too) I think we always looked at it from Jesus becoming flesh, but the way you put it brings all new meaning to the text and at the same time is completely inline with where we are coming from. Thanks for that post Ian, and I think your right on. And if your interested, we actually did a short film inspired by that line (the shot of the steeple needs to be reshot, unfortunately it was cloudy that day, it was supposed to capture the sun rising 🙂

  2. A couple months ago I was in some kind of workshop where this guy from India (I think..) whose church had exploded was sharing his experience. He said the reason that the Church in the West isn’t growing is because our motto is John 3:16- focused on right belief. He said that the churches in his country had adopted ‘and the word became flesh’ as a sign of who they were, with the idea of being Jesus in the neighborhood.

    Thought that was a better way to understand the Church…. Faithwork sounds good.

    • Ian
    • February 14th, 2007

    Nathan, Chris – thanks for the comments.

    I just remembered this morning that another reason for not investing in property is the idea that one individual faith community should not become overgrown in one central spot. The idea is that if the congregation is growing to the point where more space is needed, that is an indication that there is room to expand further and deeper into the community. Rather than acquire a large building to accomodate the congregation, it would be better to start plant a new faith community somewhere else in the city. I thought that was pretty neat as well.

    Kind of a ‘go out into all the world’ mentality as opposed to a ‘if you build it they will come’ deal.

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