Here is the church…

Most of us learned this little nursery rhyme with hand motions at an early age:

Here is the church
Here is the steeple
Open the door
And here’s all the people

I wonder if that simple little poem hasn’t been working against us. It instilled in us at an early age that the church is a building where people gather. For years, we have been gathering in buildings (sometimes really beautiful buildings) to worship, and waiting for other people to join us in the building so that, together, we can be the church. The truth is that the original Greek word for church (ekklesia) has nothing to do with a building. It actually doesn’t even mean an assembly of people. Correctly translated, it means “the called out.”

So while we gather in a building we call the church, it is we the people who are the church–the called out people. Called to go out from the church building and be the church wherever we are and wherever we go. We gather together in a building to hear God’s word and to sing God’s praises so that we are better equipped to go out and be the church in a world that so desperately needs to know the love and grace of God.

I had the privilege of hearing Dan Kimball, author of “They Love Jesus, but not the Church,” speak this past week, and he offered an alternative verse to teach our children:

Here is the church
Made up of people
Who come to worship
In the building with the steeple

May we no longer wait for people to come to church, but rather answer the call to go out and be the church so that all may hear and all may know.

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