What’s the definition of “church”?
It was great to see Mark & Rach Farrin – very dear friends from the UK, a few weeks ago down here after so long, and it got me thinking about the old gang. “Church” for me wasn’t (and isn’t) an event once a week in a set location, it’s having deep fellowship with a few individuals who challenge, love and respect you enough to say to your face “You’re wrong” as much as they’ll say “You’re right”.
Sitting in a building once a week won’t make e a Christian any more than sitting in a garage will make me a car. I get daily fellowship with a few people who speak into my life and I speak into theirs – it’s real, and not always comfortable. That’s Church to me.
Intimate. Personal. Often uncomfortable, but with an unmistakeable undercurrent of Love behind it.
I’ve been to big churches. Went regularly for several weeks, into months. Then I stopped without telling anyone. After a year nobody had called. My absence was unnoticed.
I’ve been in small churches. One week I was half an hour late and someone stepped out of the service to phone me and ask if I was ok.
The relationships were different. The small group I was in in Totnes was called TQ9, based on the area code for the town. There were about 25 – 30 in total, and we had clicques like any group. Within the group there were people I was very close to and others not so much. But we spoke into each others lives. We knew one another’s stories. We could see by looking at someone if they were troubled.
That was fellowship. That was Church. We met together in each other’s homes. We prayed, rejoiced, grieved, laughed and played together. Fellowship. We sharpened one another. Made each other strong.
Now I have only intermittent contact with most of them. A fleeting facebook message that tells me nothing. Once these people were my closest confidantes. They knew when I got engaged. They helped me through the break up. I walked away when my dad was dying – I didn’t want their pity and my pride got in the way. I blamed them, but it was me who distanced myself. I stopped taking their calls. My fellowship crumbled because I didn’t maintain it.
I went into a dark place, deep depression and 4 suicide attempts later God placed a new fellowship around me that would lift me up and set my feet back on the Rock. They dogged me and hassled me into loving them. Most of them had known me over a year before they heard me laugh or saw me smile. But they Loved me anyway.
Again, it was a faithful few who chose to love me God’s way. I am alive today because of their Faithfulness. Dave, Tina, Mark, Rachel, Martin, Louise. Ok, Mark and Rach knew me, but the others just happened. And God Blessed me.
Now in a dark place again there is one person I’ll not name here but she knows who she is who, more than anyone else here outside the family has become a strong member of my fellowship. Not because she had to, but because she chose to. We speak into one another’s lives regularly, sharing what God is doing.
The Blood of the Lamb and the Word of our Testimony. And slowly we are both seeing the enemy beaten back in our lives by simply worshipping God by doing nothing more than sharing what His love is doing for us and our families. Giving Him the Glory that is His and being humble enough to use the gifts He gives us to speak out to one another.
My church is not where I sit on a Sunday. It’s where I have fellowship and feeding. The two are not mutually exclusive, but they are not one and the same either.
Just a thought.