October 11, 2010

Riding Shotgun

The holy golf bag rode shotgun in the mini-van for a couple of years. Who knew a golf bag could double as a holder for the processional cross and torches? Two Rubbermaid totes rounded out the portable church supplies, one filled with albs and the other with a chalice, altar book, vestments and fair linens.

Planting a church requires flexibility. And a van.

For about three years, I was part of a church plant. For the first 18 months, we met in a 500-square-foot community building. The children, including my 18-month-old daughter, sat on a blanket near the altar - there was no nursery. The arrangement with the community building ended abruptly one Sunday when we arrived to set up for church - only to find there had been a calendar error -- the township also had rented the building for a gun show. We worshipped outside that day.

Today I attend a beautiful, 19th century, Gothic-style church with buttresses and arches, a nave and chancel. And worship is amazing here too. But I often wonder if we sometimes confuse the paraphernalia of our worship with the real meaning of church.

What is church to you? Is it the building? Is it a particular liturgy or style of music? Do we so often print on our newsletters and websites the pictures of our buildings - or our red doors - because it's too personal or too intimate to talk about church in any other way?

So I'm asking: What is church to you? And what are you willing to cart around to build it?