The Church Is Not A Place

“Religion that is contained only within a church building is a weekend hobby, not a personal faith.”

James Lankford

Thanks to the wonders of Disney+, I recently watched the three Marvel Thor movies: Thor, Thor – The Dark World, and Thor – Ragnarok. I’m not sure if it’s my Scandinavian heritage or simply my love for good story along with some action, but I really enjoyed watching these movies.

There is a scene towards the end of Thor – Ragnarok the really hit home. I’ll let you watch the scene here and then I’ll explain.

The church I attend has not met in the church building since March when the Pennsylvania governor began setting restrictions on meeting in large groups. Since then, my church (Christ’s Church of the Valley) has been “meeting” through live-streamed church services every Sunday morning. The production quality has been amazing, and it is nice to see familiar faces and to hear familiar voices through the preaching and the worship songs.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who would say I look forward to meeting together again in person.

Back the the Thor movie clip…

Thor’s father, Odin, provides a very good reminder. Just like Asgard, the church is not a place. (In the Thor movies, Asgard is Odin’s kingdom and Thor’s home.) The church is wherever it’s people stand or gather.

I have been blessed to gather virtually with a group of guys every Friday morning. This is the church.

I was blessed this week to share my story with a group of men from my church (G3 – Guys’ Growth Group) who have been meeting weekly for fellowship and Bible study. This is the church.

Almost every Saturday morning since the pandemic started, my wife and I have been meeting with a group of friends to go for a walk. This is the church.

In my talk this week to the G3 group, I shared a verse from Hebrews:

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)

The fourth discipline in the 7 Week Stretch Challenge is to engage in key relationships. This was a truth before the pandemic, and it is still true during the pandemic. We, the church, are called to meet together – to encourage one another, to spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

While I long for the day when our church can physically meet in the building many of us call church. I am reminded of the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility we have to find ways to meet as the church whether it’s in the building, virtually, or somewhere else.

I leave you with this passage from the book of Acts. This is a description of the early church. In the passage, it’s clear the “Fellowship of Believers” was not based on a building.

“They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

Acts 2:42-47 (NIV)