Saturday, February 10, 2007

God does not live in a building called the church!

SWERVE is the blog of who has among their physical campus satellites an Internet Campus. One of the blog's contributors, Bobby Gruenewald, who is Pastor, Innovation Leader on their staff, recently posted "God does not live in a building called the church!" about his interview with a news reporter.
A reporter asked me recently, “Bobby, aren’t you concerned that having people go to church on the Internet would somehow take away or change the ‘God experience’ that people get at a church?”

My answer was “I hope so”.

In response to the post on SWERVE, a reader named Adrian commented... "I think another concern people might have with an Internet church is that if the Internet church was enabling a consumerism approach, meaning people just went to the church to get their God-fix and leave, then a person can totally avoid dealing with fellowship."

"...get their God-fix..." Isn't that really what we see now through the vast majority of "churches" across the US? (I can't speak to other countries because I don't have the first hand experience like I do with US ones) There are more churches, offering more, to more people than ever before in history. We hear a great deal about all the change that is happening in the lives of people who go to church. We have the greatest resources we've ever had in the history of the world being applied to the "Christian community" and yet other than more people coming to church and people coming to church more often there seems to be little life-change occurring in the lives of those coming. Show me the fruit. Why are there so many who have come for so long so consistently but live un-changed lives -- living useless and unfruitful lives (2 Peter 1:8)? When did the measurement for growth in the life of a believer become less about adding to their faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love instead of adding service to their attendance at religious meetings? When did the context for the faithful become more about what we do inside the walls of a building than how we live outside the building? I think I've read this story when I was a kid. When does someone stand up and scream that the Emperor has no clothes?!

So I'm wondering... when did the fork in the road occur where the Body of Christ (the Church) began to focus more on a kingdom of/for man rather than the worldwide family initiated by Jesus, united by one Spirit, gathering wherever and whenever they had opportunity?
I read the other morning from Romans 9:
"And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. 32How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their “God projects” that they didn't notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road."

Have we become so involved in our own "God projects" that we don't notice God busy all around us all the time in the lives of everyone we encounter and miss those "church" moments that occur throughout every day, all day when two or more are gathered? Do we spend so much of our time feeding the organization of man that we can't be the body out among the unbelievers?

Wow! I guess I've said more than enough. I think most people who are concerned over an Internet church being "churchy" enough don't really understand what the body of Christ is. I am totally for believers gathering... on the Internet, across the fence in their backyards, or at the local Starbucks. I simply believe that true (growing) believers who spend some of their time with other believers together online will not hold to that online time as their only "church gathered experience. Any intentional as well as coincidental ("as you are going" Matt 28:19) gatherings seem to meet the non-forsaking principle to me!