For so many folks, even in our own community, the weekly church gathering is the end of their weekly journey. It’s where the religious road stops and they find the goal of their coming to Christ — a time of weekly renewal for themselves, with music they enjoy, with people they call their friends, and in a place they find familiar. And when they sing “Sanctuary” or other such songs, they celebrate the notion that they have finally come to a place of solace in their busy worlds. In the unholiness of the world, their feet have finally come upon holy ground.
But, what if it wasn’t this way. Granted, this is not new to missional thinking. But, what if church was a place to prepare people for engagement with what God was already doing in the world so that the meeting of Christ out in their neighborhood, their job, or their social group is the goal? What if it wasn’t an end but a beginning?
This is all so easy to say. But it’s a lot harder to put into practice. Therefore we need to find all of the signs along the way that point us in this direction.
This is what Barbara Brown Taylor says in Leaving Church:
“Gradually I remembered what I had known all along, which is that church is not a stopping place but a starting place for discerning God’s presence in this world. By offering people a place where they may engage the steady practice of listening to divine words and celebrating divine sacraments, church can help people gain a feel for how God shows up–not only in Holy Bibles and Holy Communion but also in near neighbors, mysterious strangers, sliced bread, and grocery store wine.”