Church is not a building. Church is not an event that takes place on Sundays. I know, it's how we think of it. "I go to First Baptist." "We are members of St. Luke's." "Is it time to go to church?" Much to our surprise, that is not how the Bible uses the term. Not at all. When the Scripture talks about church, it means community. The little fellowships of the heart that are outposts of the kingdom. A shared life. They worship together, eat together, pray for one another, go on quests together. They hang out together, in each other's homes. When Peter is sprung from prison, "he went to the house of Mary the mother of John…where many people had gathered and were praying" (Acts 12:12).

Anytime an army goes to war or an expedition takes to the field, it breaks down into little platoons and squads. And every chronicle of war or quest will tell you that the men and women who fought so bravely fought for each other. That's where the acts of heroism and sacrifice take place, because that's where the devotion is. You simply can't be devoted to a mass of people; devotion takes place in small units, just like a family.

We have stopped short of being an organization; we are an organism instead, a living and spontaneous association of individuals who know one another intimately, care for each other deeply, and feel a kind of respect for one another that makes rules and bylaws unnecessary. A group is the right size, I would guess, when each member can pray for every other member, individually and by name.

This is the wisdom of Brother Andrew, who smuggled Bibles into communist countries for decades. It's the model, frankly, of the church in nearly every country but the U.S. Now, I'm not suggesting you don't do whatever it is you do on Sunday mornings. I'm simply helping you accept reality—that whatever else you do, you must have a small fellowship to walk with you and fight with you and bandage your wounds. This is essential.

 

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