Be The Church
Recently, I was given the opportunity to co-lead an alpha table through Vitalpoint Church. Coming into this experience I knew that God wanted to use me. I had this excited feeling that He not only wanted me to help others explore their faith, but He also wanted me to grow in mine. After the very first night I was blown away by the conversation that took place around my table. A table filled with people from all walks of life. People who grew up in the church, people who had walked away from an old church community, and were looking to see how they may fit in to a new one, as well as people who were unchurched exploring faith for the first time.
Although their stories varied greatly, what I quickly recognized was that these people all had one very key thing in common. They wanted to know more.They had questions about Jesus, about faith, about life, and they needed a safe place to explore these curiosities.
This table became their safe place.
Week after week we joined and were given the opportunity to talk. And through this talking I realized that what was happening was beyond the words being said. It was not just a table to talk around, but also a place to listen, a place where people could be heard, a safe place to soak in the silence and just be in one another’s presence. This table created space. And week after week that space was filled with confusion and questioning, sadness and joy, love and hope. On the final night, our conversation circled around one main idea: The church. We talked about what the church is, and what it was created to be. We discussed the idea that the church isn’t defined as a building in which we gather. The church isn’t walls around us, chairs in a row, or a giant cross at the entrance. We agreed that maybe the church isn’t a denomination, a Sunday morning routine, or a membership mailbox.
Before I go any further, I want to pause and acknowledge your feelings towards these statements. I can guess what many of you are probably thinking. Initially, “what in the world is she saying?” Or “she doesn’t know what she’s talking about,” okay fair I do have a lot to learn. Followed by, “If it’s not these things than what?” I hope that’s where your mind wanders and you’re open and interested in what I’m about to say. But if not, that’s okay too.
I also want to share that I too grew up in a traditional “church” setting, and I’m not saying that these buildings are wrong. What I’m saying is the terminology “the church” and what it means to be apart of a church has been misinterpreted and disguised over many many years of Christianity. What I’m saying is “the church” can’t be physically touched, but rather it is meant to be felt. In the simplest terms, “the church” wasn’t created to be so complicated.
Yes, these buildings have taken on the title of “church,” so let’s just agree that this is one of those words that has two different meanings dependant on context. The English language wasn’t simply created, but... the church was.
Now let’s shift gears again.
If you were asked to define “the church” what would you say?
This may feel like a trick question, but I promise I’m not trying to confuse you. What I’m trying to do is bring you back to the root of your faith. Excite your soul towards the church of today, by bringing awareness to the original creation of the church. I want to reconnect you to the simplistic life of Jesus, and shine light on to the people who followed Him.
Literally, on foot, they followed Him. They were his “groupies,” to put it in secular terms. And these groups of people grew. These people travelled, and gathered, and shared the truth they had witnessed in Jesus himself. They had one driving force, and it was Jesus. Jesus, the son of God, sent down to set them free.
What I realized during these weeks, and specifically this final conversation was that the church doesn’t
create Jesus followers, but rather it is the Jesus followers who create the church.
We are the church.
We have been set free and given the opportunity to share our lives as well. We have been called to share the love of God through the lives we live each and every day.
Read that again.
Each and EVERY day.
Which brings me back to what I felt while sitting around that table. On a Tuesday night, with no sermon or offering basket. It wasn’t Sunday morning, but I was a living part of the church. We gathered, asked questions, and thanked God for all he was currently offering us. We didn’t need a building, and we didn’t even need the title of “Christian.” We were the church. And that’s exactly what the church was created to be. It really is that simple.
Now I want to leave you with this. Things to think about as you find yourself sitting around the next table.
Here are some questions you might want to ask yourself: Who do you see sitting beside you? Are these people adding to your life or taking away? Are you excited to be here? How many times have you picked up your phone?
During our entire lifetime I believe that we usually find ourselves sitting at two very different tables. Tables that tire us out, and tables that give us life.
The table that tires us out. I think for many of us, we sit at these tables every day, and we quite literally begin zoning out of our lives. These are the tables that hold us back from sharing our lives. We find ourselves sitting at a table day in and day out where we feel out of place. This table disconnects us from ourselves and we begin to lose sight of who we are and who we are meant to be. If you find yourself here, I need you to know that it’s okay. We all live here sometimes. And yes, you fit in that chair quite well, because it’s comfortable, because it’s familiar, because it’s “safe.” I think it’s time to stand up.
You have been given the opportunity to sit at a new table. A table that gives you life. Let’s call this table
How often do you find yourself surrounded by people who want to hear you speak, no matter what you have to say? These are the people who push you out of your comfort zone and meet you in the unknown by creating space for you. These are the people who radiate love, and compassion, and excitement for life. These people make you feel safe in their presence, and confident in your own.
It doesn’t matter where you come from, what your past looks like, or what your religious upbringing was/is. None of that matters when you realize that we all fit in to a greater picture. We were created with purpose, and we have the power to zone back into our surroundings. To pick the next seat we sit in. To change the direction of our lives.
When we choose to follow Jesus, we become part of the living church. The church that welcomes us with open arms, regardless of how we view ourselves. This church is formed by a living body of genuine Jesus followers. People just like you and I who are fighting to figure it out. The church allows us to share our lives without shame or guilt. This church motivates us, inspires us, and loves us unconditionally, just as Jesus did.
I have sat around tables that tire me out, and I have also placed myself at tables (literally & metaphorically) that give me life. These tables have transformed my outlook on what it means to be part of the church. When you let go of your previous understanding of the physical church you open a world that goes so much deeper. This church is so much more than the eyes can see. This church is ours.
It’s time to pick a seat.
It’s time to feel the church.
It’s time to BE the church.