When someone says “church”, what is the first thing you think of? In this area of the world, in the “Bible Belt”, we have church buildings all over the place…one on every corner. We have so many different churches….we have to differentiate ourselves in the names of our churches. Welcome to the First Pentecostal Apostolic Word of Faith Global Outreach Free Will Reformed Baptistyerian Church of the Holy Manna. I just passed a church building on the way to my office at the bookstore that I literally did not have time to read the entire name of the church as I passed at about 30mph. But I digress, I’m not here to bash church signs…that’s another blog for another day. But in this church saturated culture we live in I wonder what people think of when you say church. I know what I used to think of…and I know the typical response that I get even now by many Christians when I tell them I am a church planter. The first thing people generally ask is “Where is your church?”…and it doesn’t take long to find out that generally they mean “Where is your building?”. We are so wired in our culture here to think of the church as a church building…and if you don’t have a building…then you don’t have a church. I’m not trying to criticize…I used to think the same way myself. Even at the start of my current church planting journey I had some misconceptions about “church” that God has continued to address and correct in my life. You see I am learning more and more every day…that “church” is not a building, its not programs and ministries; church is not a budget, staff and even the corporate worship experience. Church is people….that’s bad grammar but good theology. The church are those who have been saved through faith, by grace, by our merciful God. The church universal is all of the blood bought believers from the past, present and future and the local church is how that body is made manifest in my reality and in my community. What does this mean for me as I plant a church? It means my first priority is to invest in people. I am to find where God is already working in my community and join Him in that work. To build a local church is to build relationships with lost people…to share the gospel with them…..to make disciples. Oh…I suppose we could rush out and get a building(and one day we will)…and hang a sign out front (that I could guarantee will be readable at 60mph)…but that isn’t church. I see The Bridge Church in the faces of our Launch Team…as we sit around a restaurant table and talk about what we can do for God in our community. I see The Bridge Church in the faces of a cell group as it meets together in a dance studio for fellowship and bible study. I see The Bridge Church as a group of people handing out watermelon and cookies to kids and families in a local park. You see it is in those faces….it is in those lives where I see God moving. The church isn’t merely a place….its people. Its an organism. Its a movement. The church is alive.
I pray that the answer to the question “Where is The Bridge Church?” will not just be directions to a building…but the answer will be “we are all over this community”.
Soli Deo Gloria,