Brandon at Bad Christian has written what, to my mind, is a beautiful post about the nature of the church. It may be my favorite of his posts since I started reading his blog a couple of months ago, and that's saying something.

I think he pretty much nails it with this one. If you struggle with the idea of church (I do, I don't know about you), read it please. It will at least make you think and maybe touch your heart.

Favorite line: "I mean, a group of people living in community together, being love to the world. The idea kicks ass."

UPDATE: I had planned on writing more here about the idea of the church as community but was waylaid by dinner. Then I had band rehearsal, so I'm just getting around to it now.

The church as the continuation of the ministry of Jesus in the earth is an idea older than the four Gospels. The writers of those books didn't invent the idea, that got it from the man himself. The Gospel of John expresses the idea quite clearly any number of times, for example, Jesus is recorded as praying that his disciples (not limited to the twelve but including "those who believe in me through them") would be "perfectly one." He speaks of having life in himself and of putting that life into his followers. It really is pretty explicit. I don't know if Brandon has studied John but he certainly writes as if he knows it cold.

Somewhere along the line the Church became an institution (some people actually do claim that Jesus consciously founded an institution, but I find that argument laughable) and that was bad news, not Good News. Robert Farrar Capon does a pretty concise job of charting the decline in his wonderful little book, The Astonished Heart .

More recently, Randy Frazee, a pastor of a rather large church in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, has written two very good books, The Connecting Church, and Making Room For Life, both of which try to offer practical and workable suggestions for embracing the idea of community in a world that fights tooth and nail against it. Frazee wrote something in the introduction to Connecting Church that has become my working definintion of community:"Community is the life of Christ on Earth..."

By choosing to offer a personal and heartfelt meditation as opposed to a theological treatise on the church, I think Brandon has shot straight for the heart of what community/Church/Christianity was always intended to be by its "founder." He has approached faith relationally instead of programmitcally, though I'm not sure he would describe it that way. Whatever, it's refreshing. May his type increase.

I share his love affair with the Church. It is that love that compels me to keep at this incredibly difficult job of pushing little bits of the Church toward their true mission. If enough of us push (and this entails a refusal to leave the church when it treats us like dirt) maybe some progress will be made. Or maybe we'll get squashed, that could happen too.

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