“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” -Jesus (Matthew 18:20)
A lot of people are really concerned about declining church attendance in America. I’m not one of them.
Even when I was leading a growing church—with a budget that relied on growth in attendance and giving—I refused to make anyone feel pressured to attend or to give. Why? Two reasons:
- We show up and invest our resources when we believe in what’s happening.
- The Sunday expression of church, organized as a 501c3 (with any variety of brands)—with standing, singing, sitting, listening—is not, in itself, sacred.
What’s sacred is every single moment that you realize that God is with you.
Everything is sacred! Everything is spiritual. God is with you and everywhere.
Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem…true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth…God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” —Jesus (John 4:21-24)
Going to church on Sunday is great, and I hope you do it. It’s helpful for connecting in community, receiving encouragement, and expressing yourself in love to God. But don’t be confused. Spirit is everywhere.
Thus, “church” happens anytime two or three people gather with the intent of being aligned with Jesus. If you’re encouraging someone to be who they were designed to be, you’re participating in church. If you’re in an exercise class and honing the gift of your physical “temple” with others who appreciate the gift of their health, you’re being church. When you surf with like-minded friends, appreciating creation in all its rhythmic splendor, it’s as “spiritual” as anything else you can do in a week. And when you get coffee with a close friend or offer counsel to a struggling co-journeyer, you’re welcoming God on earth.
Going to church is awesome. Let’s still do that—whatever the form. But being church–loving one another everyday, and staying connected to Spirit–that’s the essence of the good, full, and abundant life.