Stephen writes here on what church is about ... a really great question that we probably all ask ourselves from time to time. We encourage you to add your thoughts either in your discussions, or right here by adding a comment below.
I guess it is to be expected that I should start thinking about this after moving to St Barnabas. There is much that is different from the previous parishes I have worked in (not better or worse – just different) and some things that are very familiar. But it led me to muse on what it is that makes a church.
Firstly there is the building – yes, the church is the building. Not only the building but you can’t deny that the building is part of who we are. St Barnabas is a space with potential – the church is big enough to accommodate a large group; it has spaces for music groups, for flower/art/photographic displays; and the acoustics to host choirs or plays. Barnies [the hall] too is full of potential for Alpha and other Bible study/fellowship activities. Penny’s first thought was TV and rugby – I guess that will come. And then there is the kitchen and children’s room and possibly at some future date the school next door. We also have the potential for a garden – or a labyrinth or quiet space. Our church building is part of who we are as Church.
Then there is the Liturgy. We don’t seem to use a lot at the moment and it certainly doesn’t define us but we are an Anglican Church and so we have a very rich heritage of liturgical practices we can call on. Not only from South Africa but from around the world – Celtic Spirituality, Taize are two options out of many. We can certainly make use of people’s talents here – Good Friday saw a three-voice reading – not too far from adding drama or dance or a delicate AV presentation. How many ways can we express our worship and joy that speaks of who we are and who God is? Our use of liturgy (whether formal or spontaneous) adds tremendously to who we are as church.
Of course the people make up the church – and what people! People full of passion and commitment; full of warmth and welcome. Leaders in the front may be the very visible face but the people in the pews are the ones who can reach out to newcomers looking for books or regulars looking downhearted. We are all Christ’s hands and feet and voice to the world. I look forward to sharing and growing together as we investigate prayer and theology; worship and community service; reaching out and reaching in.
We are a church of potential – and a people of depth. How exciting that God has entrusted us with so much to share. We are His Church.