What (who) is the church?
This is emerging as the question at Rachel’s website. Here are some possible answers to this question: 1) The traditional or modern church – This seems to resemble an institution more than something living and organic. It’s not doing well in most of the world, and many are checking out. When people talk about leaving the church, this is what they usually mean. There may be some life left in this type of church, but it doesn’t look good overall. 2) New forms of churches – House churches, emerging churches, etc. This is looking a lot better right now, but it still doesn’t cut it for others. 3) Informal groups of believers – Some seem to argue that if you’re a believer, you don’t need the institution (they’re right), and sooner or later you’ll end up meeting with other believers and that will be your church, whenever you just happen to get together. There’s some truth to this, but it seems to involve a bit more intentionality in the Bible. I guess it can happen spontaneously, but it seems to have taken a lot of effort in apostolic times. 4) There is no church – The extreme view is that there is no it, there are only people. While the church ultimately is people, there still is something quite apart from individuals that forms when we get together – something organic and non-institutional, just like my wife and kids and I form something together and separate from what we could individually (a family). I really have no problem if people leave the institutional church (option 1), even though I’m not sure that’s the solution. I’m excited about new forms of churches (option 2), but I’m a little wary of options 3 and 4. As I’ve participated in this discussion, though, I’ve been getting more excited. It seems like God is up to something. It’s almost like we’re living through the beginnings of another Reformation. Can’t wait to see what God will do.