Reimagining Church

What if our homes became the place God’s people gathered to worship and our churches became homeless shelters? What if hungry people came to church on Sunday for supper and single parents came on workdays for free childcare. What if the coffee shop became a job training center, the bookstore a library, and we moved Thursday Bible study to the basement of our homes? The sacraments could be shared in our driveways, and VBS could take place in our backyards. The church building could become an inn where good samaritans parked their donkeys and beaten travelers found care, and rest. Discipleship could take place at our dinner tables and baptisms in the community pool.

I’m not sure how the practice of constructing church buildings for gatherings came to be – until recently I never considered it strange. Did the house church model we see in Acts get too big? Why didn’t they just plant more house churches instead of getting a bigger place to meet? I’m not saying church buildings are a bad thing. They provide jobs, like mine! And a lot of good is done in them – including sheltering the homeless and providing food for the hungry.

But I drive around my city and I see all of the sprawling cathedrals and I wonder what sort of message it sends to people who aren’t in them? I don’t understand why we go on mission trips to foreign countries but we ask people in our own country to come to us on Sunday. We ask people who aren’t sure about God to give up brunch, come to a building and sing about blood. It’s weird! Then we ask them to come back on Thursday for Bible study so we can explain ourselves. And on Monday for the Newcomers Class.  And could you serve this Sunday in the kids’ ministry?

The Church is contributing to the busyness of the world with a plethora of activities that take people out of their mission field and into a building that sometimes seems more like a club than a movement. Churches are filled with people who want to bring hope to the world, but we are investing our time in the church instead of in our own neighborhoods. Church staff and ministry leaders are doing good things inside the walls, but sometimes it feels like we are trying to create a place for savvy shoppers who are looking for speakers they can relate to, worship that moves them and excellent programming for their kids.

Did I say that out loud?

I think people have come to believe that church is a where and not a who. People choose churches based on preferences and denominations, they commit to a tradition or an experience, not to a body. And when that experience gets messy or the body gets broken or the tradition changes, there are plenty of cities on hills to choose from. I’m including myself in this group – I have left churches because I didn’t feel I was ‘being fed’ or because they didn’t have what I wanted for my kids. I’m not throwing The Church under the bus, but I wonder if there is another way, a better way – a way to reimagine church?

What if The Church taught people how to make hollandaise and invite their neighbors to brunch on Sunday – equipped people to have Monday morning worship in their living rooms or better yet the front lawn! What if we stopped having bible studies and events in the church and instead released people to bring the love of Jesus to others in the rhythm of their everyday life.

What if The Church invested its resources into communities instead of buildings, and commissioned the congregation to love those next door? What if churches in the city worked together on mobilizing a movement of people on mission in their neighborhoods and workplaces, teaching them how to share the Good News and live like the Gospel means something more than admission to heaven or weekend participation in a club.

It’s quite possible I am wrong, that I have a blind spot or I’m not thinking rationally or biblically. I invite you to push back and tell me where I’m off point. If you are a Christian reading this, I’d love to know how much of your week is spent with your neighbors or others who don’t have any interest in Jesus, and how much of your time is spent in a church building studying the Bible, hanging with people who know Jesus, or serving Christians so they can be better Christians.

Also, would you want to use your table and couch to reach your neighbors instead of inviting them to church? Or are you content with the way things are? Do you feel equipped to wrestle with hard questions that you might get from people with a different worldview? Would you know how to disciple and be a disciple in the context of real life in real time – when you come home from a bad day at work and want to reach for the vodka, when your kids tell you they hate you and you’re thinking, well the feeling is mutual, when your neighbor gets cancer, or laid off, and needs desperately for God to come through for them.

Do you want to become The Church instead of just go to one? 

If you are still with me, thanks for hanging for all 935 words. I don’t come to this page lightly, ever. I’m praying that all who read this know my heart is bent towards encouragement, not discouragement. I welcome your feedback.








6 thoughts on “Reimagining Church

  1. Whew– heavy thoughts. I need to reread this again. One thought comes to mind. The church building and its people and services, have been a visible place which for years, through the cover and leading of the Holy Spirit, has been a kind of God’s common grace and sanctification on the towns and cities where they are planted. Some still have food services etc and some do better than others in what service they provide. There is room for improvement. I personally don’t think megachurches are healthy. I think as persecution begins in America, we will have a chance to return to home churches.

    The church, however is the body of Christ. It is where the sheep are tended, corrected, trained, reproved and instructed– they eat together and rejoice and speak Psalms to one another. They then are to go out healthy and do all those other wonderful things. I love reading the VOM and the publication from Samaritans Purse. We have had a government for far too long that is brain washing people that America/Conservatives/Christians/etc are not great. But GODS people are doing amazing things– often quietly and behind the scenes. Statistics reveal each year that Christians/Americans are actually DOING more not less but as the evil one sees the time approaching, we know evil will increase and we will see more and more hopelessness and wickedness.

    The lost see the steeples. The church and its buildings should continue being a clarion call into the world, beckoning the lost inside. The church is actually for the sheep and shouldn’t try to be hip and relevant to the world, but be true to the Word and to our Lord. Every day there are stories of people (most I hear these on Christian radio) of people who when convicted by the Holy Spirit, sought out the Lord or His church to His words of truth and then slowly began to understand the words of blood, sacrifice, redeemed, ransomed. His word is a double edged sword and will not go out void among His elect.

    The road is narrow. Filled with persecution and hardship either now or in the future. Most of the world (our American world) doesn’t want that. It wants what so many who followed Jesus wanted in Matthew/Mark/Luke/John– a hot meal without conviction, repentance and a Savior. I was impressed in Denver when I volunteered for Alternatives. There are over 400 services for the needy in Denver- most saturated with people. And yet, so few want change. Shocking and sad. I don’t know the answer but do know I feel more and more convicted to pray. Pray for the church, pray for the lost. John McArthur often reminds in his sermons (w Bible reference) that the real danger/treachery is deception within the church. So that goes back to your thoughts about the church needing to be healthy places.

    We can keep praying that God breaks the shackles of sin and bondage that most of the world is in as we see the glorious day approaching and keep encouraging one another within the church as Paul does so well in Timothy, James and Thessalonians.

    Love you sister.


    1. thank you sister. i loved this: ‘the lost see the steeples’ so true! the visible and local church in many cases IS and in all cases SHOULD BE a place that doesn’t cater to the whims of the sheep or people who do not yet believe that Jesus is THE Savior. we should not create culture in our church – nationalism, conservatism, liberalism, we should, as you said, sing Psalms, exposit the word, pray, feed the poor, love our neighbors as they are, where they are and let the Holy Spirit woo them into The Kingdom – if God chooses to use us to do that via our words or our acts of service or our basement Bible study or a weekend church service praise be to God. i always have to ask myself – do i want people to change to be more like me, more american, middle class, or more like Jesus, who camped for three years with his disciples, ate with untouchables, turned over the tables, healed the sick, cast out demons. the whole Bible, the entire meta narrative points to Jesus and the restoration of His Kingdom through a chosen people – not just for heaven, but for this age too. i love voice of the martyrs! are we americans willing to lay down our politics, our lives, our allegiance to the flag. our theology is not good theology if it doesn’t apply to the poor, the widow, the orphan, the indian, the african, the egyptian, the prostitute, the prisoner. love you my friend! keep challenging me to think outside of my own paradigm. i need your voice in my life! xxoxo


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