Practicing Church

I’m going to start using this phrase when I talk about “doing Church,” as in what being part of a church[1] means to me.

“Practicing Church.”

I probably picked this up from a book about what it means to be a missional[2] Christ follower.  Don’t get me wrong–I’m not claiming that I’ve coined a new term.

With the phrase “practicing church,” I mean it to sound like how we refer to doctors practicing medicine.  The implication is that no doctor ever has medicine down to a science (pun alert!).  They are always coming up with new or refined treatments, explanations, or creative reasons to bill us.  This explains why they flip flop on pivotal issues such as whether eggs are good for you or how often we should eat Chipotle.

Back to practicing Church.  Practicing Church means that no one group of Christ followers is perfectly representing Jesus to the world.  No one church has finished their work.  My church home is weak in areas where other churches are strong in those areas, and vice versa.  {My church flexes some big muscles when it comes to being in mission, which it is one of the things I’m most proud of.}

Practicing Church also means that we need to rethink some of the things we do.  We need to slice off judgmental attitudes while cultivating the whole truth-in-love thing.  We practice figuring out how to present Jesus to the world, in relevant ways that don’t compromise the message.  We need to practice listening better.  We need to practice loving together, community together, and forgiveness together.

We need to practice breaking Chipotle bread together.  With the poor, outcast, lonely, A.I.D.S.-ridden, orphaned, and widowed.  With the ones who look and smell and speak differently than we do.  With the ones we avoid in the mall.

I—I need to practice Church better.

[1] Or Big “C” Church, the universal Church of Christ followers everywhere

[2] By “missional,” simply put, I mean living your faith out in a purposeful way that reflects Jesus’ mission more clearly.  In other words, living every day as a missionary to the people I work with, live next to, encounter at the grocery store, and throw Frisbees with.


About Brian Swanson

Christ follower. Screw up. Stained with grace. Ruined by Jesus.
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