I have been thinking a lot about this question and how it betrays our understanding and beliefs about church:
- It suggests church is in a particular geographical location.
- It suggests it is something that you go to.
This question: where do you go to church? reads strangely when applied to HOST. Our community is made up of people from a variety of locations. There is no one single meeting place – we are not defined by our geographical location or buildings although we learn, worship and gather in a particular context.
In light of what we are trying to do at HOST I am forced to ask the question afresh…what is the church?
Rowan Williams in his excellent little book ‘Tokens of Trust’ suggests the following:
One of the simplest possible definitions of Church is to say that it is meant to be the place where Jesus is visibly active in the world… We see a form of behaviour that shows radical forgiveness or extraordinarily courageous hope, and we are able to say. ‘Yes, that’s it; that’s the kind of thing I mean when I think about the church and what it is for’
Church in this reading is beyond institutions, locations, buildings and styles of worship. It is something active, dynamic and transformative. This of course is at the heart of the New Testament. No buildings or specific locations but rather a people committed to Christ, one another and God’s purposes of redeeming the world.
Maybe we could re-word the question: where do you do Church? or even where do you see Church? Perhaps we could ask: where is church happening?
And in reply Rowan writes: ‘I have seen the Church and it works!’