John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

Church: Being or Doing?

My friend L(only) V(only) Hanson asked this question as part of his Facebook status the other day: "How do you do church without doing events?" Now...that's a question that'll give you fits, won't it?

I think what this gets at is whether or not we see the church as something we do or something we are. The word "church" brings to mind all sorts of event-related images. Our Sunday morning assemblies are events, aren't they? All the activities of a church...those are events, right?

But -- even as a child growing up in an attractional-model church -- I was always told that the church is not someplace to go. Rather, I was told, the church is what we are. We don't simply go to church; we are the church.

Still...that rhetoric is nice and all...but we talk about planting a church, attending a church, being a member of a church. What do all these phrases mean? They refer to a place where a group of people do things. A church is a group of people who hold events.

They do church.

Okay, now I'm stuck a little. Are they a church because they do church? Or do they do church because they are a church?

I'm not saying that the two have to be mutually exclusive. At least I don't think I am.

What's your take? Is it possible to be church without doing church?