Source: Sherman Publications

Spiritual Matters
The church has left the building

October 09, 2013

When you think of the word “church” what comes to mind?

For some church brings to mind an image of a quaint country building with a pretty white steeple. For others perhaps a grand cathedral in Europe or a place you went as a child on a bus to learn about Jesus. Sometimes churches are in homes or schools or warehouses or theatres and even in pubs or restaurants. Many of us have fond memories of the church we grew up in.

However many people today see the Church as antiquated and having little or no role their lives. Others have had negative experiences and the very word church brings to mind judgmental and hurtful memories. Most of us cringe at some of the things in history that have been done by the church. I am pretty sure God does to.

In the Bible the New Testament word for church is a translation of the Greek word ekklesia, meaning a people who are “called out” by God for God’s purpose. The word church is never used to refer to a building or meeting place, but always to a people who are called into God’s mission.

It has always seemed ironic to me that when someone (including me) is asked what church they attend, we almost always identify the building we go to. It would truly be more accurate to say something like, “I am a follower of Jesus on a mission from God who happens to gather occasionally at such and such place to learn and grow so that I can be the church in the world right where I am in every moment of every day.” I know it’s a bit long, but I hope you catch the drift that the church is a people serving God wherever they are, and certainly not a building or a place or a denomination.

Simply put, we don’t go to church, we are the church - or we’ve missed the point!

I really appreciate the way Anglican clergyman Ernest Southcott put it: “The holiest moment of the church service is the moment when God’s people—strengthened by preaching and sacrament—go out of the church door into the world to be the church.”

With this background, I hope you can see why I am so looking forward to this Sunday, October 13, when “the Church will leave the building” on Bluegrass Drive to be the church and serve in the community. That day we will gather for one worship “service” at 9 AM, and leave inspired to continue the “service” in serving others. And, even better, we will be serving alongside Clarkston Community Schools and the Chamber of Commerce, as well as various other community organizations and congregations to help those in need and to improve our community. We hope this is something that will happen each fall and spring, and will grow to include all who feel called.

The Church Has Left the Building + Clarkston Community School’s Green Apple Day of Service = a big Community Impact Day everyone is invited to be part of. Check it out and sign up to serve at

“Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

The Rev. Jonathan Heierman is pastor of Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church