A friend just emailed and asked why i wouldn’t call these new things ‘church’, because they seem to be what the church should be about. There are a few reasons:
For those who are leaving the church, the naming matters immensely. They would not call these new ‘things’ church, so why would I?
I think church means something distinct – it implies community, mission and a link with Christian tradition. It’s not a word that should just be applied to every sacred space.
The people who seem to need to call these things ‘church’ are those in the church, and i wonder why it matters. Perhaps instead of broadening the definition of ‘church’, we need to broaden our understanding of the spaces in which redemption and transformation will find their expression – and to be ok with the idea that not all of those are within the church.