I won’t deny that the message of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection is a central element of Christianity which needs to be spoken into our lives regularly and often. I also won’t deny that you can receive this message, at least in part, from a daily Bible app which pops up on your phone every morning. But the church is far more than a message center.
The church is the place in which we come to worship the risen Lord together and encounter Christ’s presence in the midst of worshipping community. The church is the place where we come to die to ourselves in the waters of baptism and rise to new life in Jesus Christ. The church is the place in which we gather together around the table, and share our Lord’s body and blood in the bread and the wine. The church is the place where we come together to bring food for the hungry in our towns and cities, gather support for victims of abuse, do what we can to help victims of disaster, and provide a shoulder to cry on for the woman going through a painful divorce. The church is the place in which we form friendships in the light of Christ, become vulnerable before the Lord with one another, and receive forgiveness for the innumerable ways in which we mess our lives up. The church is the place we come to marry the one we love, surrounded by those we love. The church is the place in which we bring our grief over losing family members and others we care about, and be reminded that death has been defeated by the power and love of Christ himself. The church is the place where we bring our children to learn how to hear the Gospel proclaimed over their lives so that they know that their worth does not come from the grades they earn in school or the approval of their peers, but from the love of our God who has formed them in the image of our Creator. The church is the place where we come to learn how to pray, lifting up to God’s care those who cannot care for themselves. The church is all of these things and so much more.
– Seth Nelson, The Church Unknown: Reflections of a Millennial Pastor