This last week I attended a conference about House Churches. This was not my first encounter with the "Movement", in fact every week my wife and I gather together with three other families for a "Church" that meets in a home. We have not been a part of a traditional Church for almost two years now but I still found my self asking the question "What is Church?".
Church is a funny word, it can bring so many images to mind and not everyone sees the same picture. Is it the building where followers of Jesus meet? Is it the people who gather in the building? Is it the religious organization that owns the building where the people gather? Or, could it just be the people who follow Jesus where ever and when ever they are gathered together?
The difficulty for me is that I have the picture of the Church in America stuck in my head because I see it everywhere I go. When I read about the early followers of Jesus and how they gathered I see a sharp contrast between the two. The one thing that I feel could have been stressed more at this conference was how simple Church can be. Jesus made Church so simple - "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them" (Matthew 18:20). There it is, that is it, so simple and yet we make it so much more difficult. We want to control it, track it's progress, chart it's growth, raise funds, expand it, and contain it all in a corporate structure.
Jesus said that *He* would build His Church, the first century church taught that God does not dwell in a building made by human hands but that he was assembling a place for his habitation made out of "living stones" - those who love him, the people who follow Jesus. I am looking for the Church that has God's fingerprints on it, and if I see anything that looks like man's fingerprints on it I just keep moving on. The Church can be found any time Jesus' followers gather, in any place they find Brothers and Sisters to share their common faith and love.
Peace, Love, and Light through Jesus the Christ!