Recently a pastor friend asked me to describe what is a church and what does it look like? Sounds simple doesn't it? All Christians know what a church is and what it looks like. It is a place where believers gather in a building, say a prayer, sing some songs, listen to some announcements, place money in an offering plate, listen to sermon, sing one more song, and go home until next Sunday. At least this is the definition that most Christians would give. No wonder the church is in decline in America.
So what is a church? I know what it is not, it is not a building, it is not an order of service, it is not a few songs, and it's not about someone standing in a pulpit. Church is much more than all of this. Church is about two or three people gathering in the name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit being present. This can occur anywhere at anytime. Church happens wherever we invite the Holy Spirit to be present.
This weekend I had church at a KFC with Leon, a homeless guy. Leon had asked for some money and I asked why and he said he had not eaten anything in three days. I told him that I would meet him at KFC and buy his lunch. As we were walking into KFC Leon asked me what I did and I told him that I did different things. Unless I have to I rarely tell someone I am a minister. Somehow he knew that I was a pastor even though I was wearing a flannel shirt, jeans, hiking boots, and a Mickey Mouse ball cap. It is not what you have on the outside but what is radiating from the inside. I ordered Leon what he wanted and carried the food over to him and sat down with him just to fellowship for a few minutes. I prayed a blessing over the food and then church broke out. As soon as I finished praying Leon grabbed my hands and started praying a prayer that opened the heavens. Leon prayed some things over me that he could not have possibly known. As Leon is praying my eyes are beginning to get watery and I have tears streaming down my face. Church was taking place at KFC with a homeless man blessing me. Jesus said whatever we do for the least of these we are doing for Him. Jesus was blessing me with a Holy Spirit inspired prayer by a brother I never met before.
Church is wherever Jesus is present. For the church to get out of the spiral of decline we must begin asking ourselves what is church and what does it look like. I encourage you to search out scripture to define church, review early church history to see how church was done in the beginning, and finally ask the Holy Spirit to remove the blinders of traditionalism. Traditionalism is the dead faith of the living and tradition is the living faith of the dead.