Anyone remember the world before answering machines? Whether expecting a call about a job or a date, we had to sit home and wait by the phone. Today, in addition to making phone calls on the road, smartphones enable us to work, email, post status updates, search the web, play games and text, all from anywhere. To go back to the days of sitting at home, waiting for the phone to ring would be absurd.
Likewise, it would be just plain silly for someone expecting to hear from God, to sit idly in a church building, as if that was the only place God could reach them. God's network gives us four bars anywhere we go, yet we church people often present God's omnipresence as a Bakelite wall phone with a long tangled cord. In fact, the idea of church as building is so ingrained in us that we ask people, "Where do you go to church?" If we took Jesus' words seriously, we would ask instead, "Where does your church go?"
In the Ascension narrative, the last thing Jesus tells his disciples is to "Go! - and make disciples."
Go! Not build a place for people to come, but "Go!"
At Vision, we have been deeply rethinking and re-imagining what it means to be an authentic church. For years, we assumed our goal should be to acquire a church building and grow in a new location. For the past two years, we have worshipped in a traditional church building. Although there were many positive aspects of our time there, there were many challenges as well. We had an opportunity to make our stay in this location permanent, but the way events unfolded made it clear God was calling us to do something new, to be the church that only we could be. As surely as God led us to that building two years ago, God is leading us somewhere new now.
In recent years, there has been a popular saying among missional churches, "the church has left the building." Usually, it means that a church is going to attempt to do more outside its own walls. At Vision, we have decided to follow God's lead and take things a step further.
We are quite literally, the church that left the building.