Church as Toddler. Church as Family...

One of the more fundamental confusions about the local church that plagues us these days is the unexamined belief that the church should function something like a good restaurant.  It exists primarily as the purveyor of religious goods and services and you choose one that has the stuff you like. Good service, nice French fries, delicious soufflé. This view, if unchecked, will keep any church from embodying the kind of beauty and goodness and truth that we long to see. To make matters harder, Trinity is a church plant - which means that we are a big ball of potential. Lots of raw material, everything still taking shape. We're like a little toddler, bumping into the walls, sticking our fingers in the electrical sockets, doing all the things toddlers do. So, if you come to Trinity in the way that many people come to church in the U.S., well, you'll be sorely disappointed much of the time. 


The church is described a number of different ways in the New Testament - but one of the bible's favorites is to describe the church as a family. What we do on Sunday is gather for a Sunday meal. We care for one another. We sing the praises of our good Father. He tells us, through the Bible and the liturgy what He's like, what He wants for us, and most of all, what He's done for us in Jesus. Now, admittedly, family meals can be a little awkward, and we want our friends and even strangers who don't know our Father to come and sit with us and eat with us. But this is precisely how God forms us increasingly into the image of Jesus - declaring us to be and then making us increasingly to look like sons and daughters. 


One of the implications of this biblical understanding of the church is that most of the things we long to see in our life together at Trinity require all of us to pursue together. We want family-like community with one another. That isn't something that can be programmed. There isn't a "switch" we can throw for that in a church plant. There are simply people committed to pursuing conversations and time and honesty with one another. New people who wander through our doors for our gathering won't feel welcomed by an institution. They need to actually be welcomed by people who are already gathered into this new community. 


As we approach the fall, we are trying to facilitate as many opportunities as we can for our church family to draw closer to one another and to invite neighbors and friends and well, even strangers to come and be with us - in worship on a Sunday, in homes during the week for dinner and laughter and prayer, at an event around town. But in the end, as we long to see the church grow up into greater and greater maturity, all of us have to recognize the church as a family - where everyone is at work - welcoming, inviting, singing, praying, approaching together.