It’s been happening slowly over time but I noticed it last weeked fully. There is a change among those I highly respect in the faith, in my friends and in myself. I named it last weekend and I call it a revival. For those in pentacostal circles that word brings images of large tent meetings, probably songs, flags and many numbers of conversions, but thats not the kind of revival I mean.
Especially when you grow up in a home with a family that attends church, there comes a time when you either decide that is not your faith or you make that faith your own. We made that decision a long time ago, but there has been a change and I believe it may have come partly from this; “We need to find ways of bring reminded that our religious sanctuaries are at best chapels onto the great cathedral of creation. Otherwise the impression is given, as historically has been again and again, that God is somehow more present within the four walls than in every other place and that the time for meeting within the four walls of our religious sanctuaries is somehow more sacred than all other moments and that the people who gather within the four walls are somehow more holy than all other people, ” P. Newell (Christ of the Celts).
See, we found God within the church and we were taught that that is the only place to find him. Our revival is coming from finding God outside the church. We are finding him in creation, we are finding him in each other and we are finding him in ourselves (contrary to the doctrine of original sin). We never knew this could be possible. This new perspective, “views Christ as coming from the heart of creation rather than beyond creation. And it celebrates him as reconnecting us to our true nature instead of saving us from our nature,” Newell. Just because God is in us, doesnt mean I am God – quite the contrary as anyone who knows me can attest! It means I don’t have to GO and meet with him, I already am. Where I go, He IS. We get too scared of sounding new age, and we reject any thoughts that are remotely like it, but we miss some important and valuable things by throwing the baby out with the bath water.
If the church is not more holy, and that time is not more sacred, and the people are not more worthy then do we dismiss church all together? Absolutely not! It feels good (pride) to be thought of as holier or more sacred than others and that you go to a special place that others can join if they adhere to the perscribed set of rituals. Our entire focus for evangelism was to get people into the church. That focus is completely off the mark – the goal is to show people Christ, notice I did not say bring people to Christ. How can you bring someone to someone who is already there?
Our time within the four walls as a body is not about being more special or having a holy club, it is about coming together, unity. However, unity has often been the farthest thing from what has happened within the church. We want religious nurseries, as Newell calls them. In a world that often feel rejected, labeled and less than, we love our holy clubs that make us feel special. If we really knew who we are in Christ, our churches would not be the same. In Nigeria, I danced with people who didn’t feel more special, they knew they were special. I sang with people who didnt think that time in church was more sacred, they new every minute they had breath was sacred. Being among the poor there made me feel closer to God than many times I have been in a church. That’s why I am going back. Not because I have a lot to offer them, but what they offered me.
I have a great home church but I often visit other churches. I love the people in them, some are easier to love than others. I will never give up on the congregating of the church, but I will advocate for it’s health. George Macloed is the founder of the modern-day Iona Community in Scotland (where I plan to visit one day). His prayer is what I pray for us:
Give us grace in our changing day,
to stand by the temple that is the present church.
the noisome temple
the sometimes scandalised temple that is the present church,
listening sometime to what again seems mumbo jumbo.
Make it our custom to go
till the new outline of your Body for our day
becomes visible in our midst.