You’re probably familiar with statements such as, “we don’t GO to church. We ARE the church.” There are similar ones that go something like this: “Church is not what we do when we gather on Sunday mornings for an hour or so. Church is not a place or a building. It’s what we are OUT THERE.” Well, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and, although there’s some truth and some wisdom in these statements (which I’ve spoken myself), I’m no longer so sure about them on the whole.
This kind of thinking has developed enough steam over the last few decades that I think you could fairly call it a “movement.” I’d suggest that its full name is the “anti-church-as-an-institution-or-building” movement. It’s also quite opposed to all forms of regular, traditional (and, especially) LOCAL churches. I attended a pastors’ convention in June in which a youth pastor preached one of the workshops. According to his senior pastor, this particular young pastor was being greatly influenced by his buddies in the International House of Prayer (IHOP) movement (which may or may not be influencing him in this area). Anyway, the main thrust of his message was that “we need to get free from the local church” and “we’ve got to get away from local church kind of thinking and get out there and be the kingdom.” Naturally, I couldn’t help but notice that he was saying this in a local church that paid him a nice salary, etc., but I digress.