I am going to do some “thinking out loud” by blogging. I was reading some at the InternetMonk blog earlier. It is a blog I enjoyed immensely for years, but I rarely go there to read now. It has changed quite a bit since the passing of its founder earlier this year. At times, I quite enjoy it, but it isn’t the same. One of the discussions currently revolves around the vocation of pastors and the problem of pastoral burnout and so forth. In the comment thread, one of the comments cited Luther’s definition of church as follows:
a place where God’s word is preached and the sacraments are administered
I am not sure that this is an exact quote of Luther per se, but it is reflected in some form or fashion in various Lutheran congregational statements and I recall hearing something to this effect in many of my discussions at blogs written by some of my Lutheran friends online. For some reason, when I saw it tonight the glaring error in thinking reflected by this statement hit me squarely. It is a category error that exists in the thinking of far too many in the church.
Too often, we are prone to think of the church in terms of location. And before I get accused of oversimplifying the issue, I am well aware that even the above sentiment is not intended to define a specific “place” as in a type of building or something. But the church is defined by something other than preaching and the sacraments. These things will be present in any church to be sure, but I would like to offer another definition.
Church is the people who are walking with God and inviting others to do the same.
The core command of our Master is to make disciples. Disciples are those who follow their Master. These disciples are the church.
What do you think?