Monday, May 23, 2005

If Church Were a Verb...

My book discussion group was on an absolute roll this weekend.

Here's another thought that was generated in discussion: "If church were a verb, what would it do?"

I'll open this question up to my readership. What do you think it should do?

Have at it, kids!

19 comments:

Pf2144 said...

The first thing that came to mind was: pray.

The second thing: study

The third: Eat Christ's body and drink Christ's blood.

Interestingly, after I had thought about that, I realized that was the liturgical arrangement of most Christian churches at least as far back as the 2nd century when the apologist Justin describe the liturgy as primarily the study and explanation of scriptures, the prayers, and the eucharist. :)

M.P. said...

Curious that we find using "church" as a verb so surprising. "Churching," that is at least for me, experiencing and responding to the Spirit's activity and guidance together is really what the noun "church" is all about. We need to daily be "churched" and to daily "church" the world together. This is what the church is all about -- it is what we do together in faith as believers in Jesus Christ. Peace -- M.P.

Preachrboy said...

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*Christopher said...

Fr. Alexander Schmemann movingly describes church as beginning to happen as men and women and children leave their homes and walk to their worship house, in gathering, in praying, singing, listening, responding, giving thanks (Eucharist) (notice all of those gerunds and verbs). Church is a happening.

Hey pf2144, good to see you here. (HH)

LutheranChik said...

My pastor would probably answer my question, "The Church prays and the Church works." Which is pretty much what's been said here.

To which I'd add:

Praying is a relational act. I heard someone once describe prayer in cruciform terms, with one arm outstretched to God, one arm outstretched to others; one beam anchored firmly in the "earthiness" of the human experience, one beam reaching up to things eternal. And -- by definition, it assumes One Who Hears.

Working, to me, includes the work of worship -- it's what liturgy means. One can even think of prayer as part of the work of the people of God. It also includes living the love of Christ into whatever situation we may find ourselves in, at any given moment. Our working might also include whatever spiritual disciplines we may practice.

But if our work, including our work of prayer, becomes too inward-turned, either on a personal or on a corporate level, we get into trouble.

One Sunday my pastor talked about the pattern of calling and sending, calling and sending, that we find in the Gospels. So "churching" has this wavelike quality -- we're called into community, called into an intimate experience of Word and Sacrament, then sent out into the world to live that experience into the lives of others. And the next time we're called back, perhaps we bring a few new people with us. And then we all get sent out again. And so it goes.

Lutheran Zephyr said...

Am I the only one out here with some cynicism? Perhaps I can wrap this answer in sinner/saint paradox.

SINNER: If the church were a verb, it would sit/frown/wait for society to do something neat and then jump on board 10 years later/hesitate to open its doors to anyone not born there.

SAINT: But, at the same time, the church as verb would live and die, give and receive, pray and offer praise, sing, dance, celebrate, repent and heal.

LutheranChik said...

I'm trying to suspend my cynicism.;-) That asymptotic goal thing again -- the Church isn't going to always get it right, but that's what we aim for anyway.

LutheranChik said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lutheran Zephyr said...

PS. Love the blog, love your approach. Thanks. I'll be returning often . . .

Christopher said...

Funny enough. When one of my friends who was a Janitor at a Church mentioned "Churching" he was refering to inviting his friends to the Church he cleaned late at night and partying.
Churching though... I would think it would be synonomous with Shinging, and showing. That's off the top of my pointy little head.
Peace,
Chris

LutheranChik said...

Chris -- what is it with those party-hearty university-town church janitors...we had one of those back in the Dark Ages when I was in school.;-)

Thanks for visiting my blog, Chris! Lutheran solidarity -- it's a good thing.;-)

Purechristianithink said...

To church is to invite and welcome people into the life of the body of Christ. In my six plus years of serving a tiny struggling church and hanging out with pastors of other small, foundering congregations I've come to know in my soul that this is the bottom line: not some super-dooper church growth package, not desire to preserve a particular heritage, not a great social service program, not promoting one particular theology over and against another.

Mark Pritchard said...

I think "to make community" -- by doing as Christ did: drawing the circle so wide it includes those who have never been drawn in.

Andy said...

I've recently been trying to push my definition of the Church: "The Church is the Church when it's being the Church." But of course that still leaves open the question you've asked here (not to mention the question of what happens to us when we're not being the Church).

I think the Church should be recognized the same way its Messiah was: "the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them." (Luke 7:22)

It's a pretty tall order, and of course as I look over the list I want to treat most of it metaphorically (is that wrong in this case?), but I think it's our calling.

bls said...

Church gathers all people in to talk about the most important things in the world: life, death, our souls, our selves, meaning, truth, our destiny as human beings.

Also, hopefully, it sees where there is pain and brings healing.

bls said...

(And, of course, it sings.)

LutheranChik said...

Oh, yes...singing is praying twice.

(Although in LutheranChik's case...maybe it's praying, like, maybe 1.25 times.)

LutheranChik said...

Hi, Mark! I just visited your blog...like it.;-)

LutheranChik said...

PureC, Mel and bls: Good points, all of you.

Interestingly, since I'm a commuter parishoner who doesn't always have an opportunity to engage in intimate/self-disclosing discussions about "all the important things" in the context of my church...I've found real deep community among my fellow LMTP students, where we do have regular times during our periodic get-togethers where we break up into small groups, go to a private area, sit in a circle and share with our group mentor...about anything and everything. It's completely confidential: "What you say here stays here." I've been very moved by some of these conversations -- and keep in mind, a lot of us are fairly new to this program -- and I've found myself being more frank about my feelings than I thought I would be in that context. We stay in the same group throughout the program -- albeit there are always new people coming in and graduates leaving -- so there's some continuity. And our mentors are all graduates of the program. It's been a very positive experience that would be interesting to try and replicate in a congregational setting.