Donald Miller just posted a follow up blog on his thoughts on church and “attendance.”
Here’s a snippet from his latest post, the context is a conversation he had with a pastor friend about the nature of church. Don writes:
The vision I got was of a pastor who sees his or herself as a pastor to pastors. What I mean is, a pastor who spends sunday equipping the congregation to be pastors themselves, that is to baptize people through the week, perhaps in their home swimming pools, to guide people through communion, perhaps around their own dinner tables, to teach the Bible to their friends and neighbors, to sing together in their homes, to make meals and share them with the sick and so forth. Then, on Sunday, “pastors” could gather to encourage each other and share stories about their own “churches” in the world. I even imagined buying a bunch of little sheriff badges so a pastor could “deputize” their congregations as priests in God’s kingdom, answering to the Holy Spirit and doing the work of Jesus directly.
This. This is it. Not all of it, but a good bite of what the church actually is. It’s a beautiful vision.
Equally beautiful is the reality that many people “inside the church” are exhausted and afraid or wounded and mistrusting. Others are doubtful and not up for the challenge to live this beautiful vision written above.
Others are cynical and smarter than anyone else. And too many love to sit on the sidelines, arms folded saying, “here’s how I would have done it” but never do it. Some people are “Weird Uncle Phil” and are in church because its the only community that accepts them. Some live in “Lord I believe, help my unbelief” and others are Rahab the prostitute, surprised that they get to camp in the God community and others are failing at “Go and sin no more.”
Some want to treat God like the neighborhood pharmacist, prescribing just the right medication to take the pain away. Then there are others who, after years of monotony wake up to the life of Jesus and the Spirit and want to go for it.
Also those who put one foot in front of the other and over a lifetime give quiet testimony to the grace and mercy of God.
Or the suburban Dad who coaches baseball, but also serves the 4th graders every Sunday who is more a pastor to those kids than “the pastor.”
And finally, the church is people who would never think they could baptize their neighbor in a pool, but get inspired to try it and discover it is wonderful to be God’s priest in that moment. Sitting next to them are those who hear the challenge to baptize their neighbor in a pool and they never do because they believe in themselves more than in God and they just know they could never do a thing like that.
And wherever two or three of these kinds of people are gathered, there is Jesus in the midst, doing his work, his way in his time.