How do you answer a question like this? Do you talk about what happens at a typical Sunday meeting? Maybe you say how many people belong to the church, and what social or outreach projects the church runs. Credit to Frank Viola for the idea, but how about describing what our church is like in terms of what a church is supposed to be:
A new kind of people – looking beyond the natural categories of race, social background, gender, age and so on
A family – looking after each other and putting each other’s needs before our own
A body – with everyone contributing and playing a part in the life of the church, like a body is made of many parts that can only work properly when in harmony with all the other parts
A bride – loved limitlessly by God and expressing his beauty in our world
An army – growing in our ability to stand against the powers opposed to God: ‘I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it’.
A holy priesthood – all serving God and bringing him glory through our daily lives
A holy nation – set apart for God’s purposes, reflecting the values of God’s kingdom rather than our earthly kingdom
A golden lampstand – bringing light to the world and together banishing the darkness of oppression, injustice and poverty
One loaf – connected together and united, like the grains that are baked together to make a loaf of bread
God’s field – as expressed in the loaf idea, we should all be rooted in God’s soil so that together we show God’s likeness
A vineyard – linked with Christ so that his character and ours are so closely intertwined
A sheepfold – moving together and following the direction of God, our shepherd
A temple – being built together with Christ as our foundation and cornerstone, and bringing God’s presence into the world
A city – citizens of the glorious heavenly Jerusalem, a city in which Jesus is the prince and the light
Please do have a quick read of the article on Frank Viola’s blog. I think it’s wonderful and it’s certainly given me a fresh lens on how we ‘do’ church.