I sometimes hear people say “you can be a Christian and not go to church…” its not a new concept, but I am increasingly finding it frustrating to hear.
I would want to say ‘of course, you don’t have to attend Sunday worship events as we have always done’, but as I read the scriptures I would say it is impossible to be a Christian outside of community. The whole ‘one another’ passages become absurd! The nature of God as trinity and we ‘being one as he is one’ loses all meaning.
Now – sure there are exceptions to every rule (where a person is isolated by distance etc) but I would argue that you haven’t really ‘got’ the whole discipleship thing if you choose to not engage with other followers, if you simply see it as a ‘me and God’ deal.
In this more fluid time in church history where there is opportunity to re-imagine and express faith differently this has increasingly become a non-negotiable for me. I really don’t care how you express that community, but I do care that you do it. I say this because occasionally I come across people who don’t regard community highly and who ‘float’ with no group of people they are deeply engaged with.
As I have gone along I have been working on a personal definition / understanding of church and currently this is it: “a covenant community of people who help each other follow Jesus and continue his mission in the world.”
I added ‘covenant’ (yes – I know its a churchy word – but its also a very good word!) because I don’t think it’s sufficient to catch up with people here and there and regard that as church. I fear for the discipleship of those who ‘float’, who never get known by others enough to be loved and challenged, confronted and corrected, or to be able to give those things to another. It seems quite selfish to me…
I am happy for you to push back on that if you wish