When Seth says “church” I think his definition is the incorporated non-profit organization that exists on the corner in an owned or rented building that meets at a minimum on Sunday.
And I agree whole heartedly with his feelings here. Sometimes I wonder if the bias of the church towards relationship and fellowship has killed it, basically a twisted sense of community, ie a country club style of community.
If I want to have relationship/fellowship in my community then of course I want my community to be like me. And “me” is a redeemed, non-offensive, seemingly righteous kind of person. This is the American demographic imperative, and so with the pastoral gift as the gift in charge of the church 99.99% of the time, an ivory tower is built with an attractive non-offensive yet nearly impregnable wall.
But what if community was built by process instead of relationship, or at least what if process was the structure of community, and relationship was the drywall, paint, and comfy furniture of community.
But what kind of process or processes? For one, we need a process that makes sure that the messy people not of our demographic are part of our community whether they are inside our outside of those attractive walls that the “pastoral gift in charge model” has built over the past decades.
And this process should include not being motivated by bring them into that church. Maybe it is enough for them that they enter into God’s Kingdom and meet with you every week over coffee. Did the angel’s in heaven rejoice more or less with this outcome?
And maybe just maybe Seth’s implicit definition of church isn’t enough. Maybe we should talk about other models that can be church.