The “Church”

On September 12th at our Parent Orientation for Confirmation, we had students representing 5 different churches in the Cedarburg, Grafton and Brown Deer areas (Immanuel, Faith, Advent, St. John, and Memorial- this year we don’t have any students from Trinity).  Looking out at all of us, Pastor John made the comment that it is good for us to see that the “Church” is much bigger than just one congregation.  All of us who were sitting in the youth room were examples of that.  How has our understanding of “Church” changed in the last 10, 20, 30+ years?

7 thoughts on “The “Church””

  1. In computer science we talk a lot about “meta” levels – data about data, like what a zip code means, data about data about data like what each character in a zip code is meaningful… in the same way I think community exists in immediate and (many) meta levels.

    1. I think you are really on to something Ron. Every level of “church” is important and meaningful. Often the role of pastor is 3 fold – carpenter (we do the work, visit people, preach, teach, etc.), contactor (we find the right people to embrace a specific ministry around their giftedness), and architect (we try to see the big picture and try to vision a new way of doing ministry with the resources and people we have). Thanks for your insights!

  2. When I was little, I would recite the finger-play poem about the church and the steeple and open the door and see all the people. Well – me being me – my “people” were always really wiggly as I opened my hands to reveal the squirming digits. I guess my early idea of the church was some combination of congregation and building.
    Now as I am more mature (think older!), when I listen to Scripture, different picture of church are painted. There are verses that speak of the church as the Bride of Christ. Honestly, those verses still confuse me. But there are also many verses about the Body of Christ. We often hear how we are to be the physical body – the hands and feet of Christ. To go and do. And check out 1 Corinthians 12 for more imagery of the Body of Christ. But a body can also be a “distinct mass of matter” (Thanks Merriam Webster online!).
    Soooo – that leads me to the church being a distinct mass of people. Each physical body being unique and holy in form and function. And each body exists to support and work together with every other unique body. The church is found in each body, but the church isn’t any one body. Together, the church has an awesome BMI (Body Mass Impressiveness)! Just like the “wiggly fingers” from the poem of my childhood, the energy of the church cannot be contained. To be church, you have to leave the building.

    1. I really like what you posted. Thinking of “church” being multifacted and complex. It can be for some people a physical space in which people gather for a specific worship experience. The inside of the church building is designed to be “set apart” from our regular civic structures in that symbols – stained glass, wall hangings, etc. point us to the God of all of us. The other side to “church” which you eloquently pointed out is the people who gather together. Whether we are meeting in a specific church building or some other structure, it matters little because the people are the “Holy Spirit ‘carriers'” and where we go the spirit goes. Also, what you are alluding to is that when we break off and do our daily work/ministries, we are still “church” working, playing, etc. It is a powerful thing!

  3. I wonder too…are the “lines of demarcation” blurring a bit now? Are we still as “provincial” as we used to be? Is Trinity in and of itself alone in our ministries? Are we seeing the benefits of mutual ministries among the congregations in the area? Are we seeing Trinity as a part of the whole of the Lutheran presence in Cedarburg? I know, lots of questions…but still important ones to ask ourselves.

  4. Thanks, Brent,

    Enjoy the conversation/challenge getting the folks to think about the theology of the word The “Church,” in Cedarburg. I remember what I learned in confirmation years ago. “CHurCH.” It’s where ever “ur” surrounded by Christ! as the word CHurCH……. the beginning and end of the word are the greek letters for Christ….. no Christ, no Church! There. is One Church of Jesus Christ in the whole World! The ecumenical creeds express that well. Carl

    ps Thanks for helping the four ELCA congregations to see their places as “bases of operation” and not “God Boxes.” They are Christ’s church together in “mini”stries.

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