i didn’t.

strangely the world has not ended yet, but we ARE on African time, so maybe give it a few hours.

in fact, we’ve been back in South Africa for three weeks now and are yet to attend a sunday gathering [gasp!]

some people are not okay with this, and we’re okay with them not being okay

i don’t imagine i will be standing in front of God one day and He will be looking down at me [cos that’s the posture you take when you ask this question] saying, “So, skipped three weeks of church in a row, eh?”

gotochurch

what i did do this week was read my Bible – i have been working through 1 and 2 Peter, reading them the whole way through again andagain, trying to get a feel for the whole letters in context and dig a little deeper than a single visit will do for me. i did this with Philippians once, where i read the whole book [yes, all four chapters!] every day for a month. surprisingly i didn’t get bored, but found that the more i went through it, the more i started to see. once you get to know the main bits and get familiar with them, then things that were hidden in the background start to surface and often surprise you and get you thinking and acting a little more deeply.

another thing i did this week was pray. for my sick wife [still sick]. for my best friend with cancer [really struggling this week. conversations with God about why He doesn’t seem to heal people when i pray for them. invitation for God to help me be more patient and less snappy with my beautiful wife. prayer for a number of friends who have lost loved ones this week. prayer for the right opportunity of the what-next for my life. asking God to just generally reveal Himself to me and increase my faith during what can typically be a tough time of transition. and more.

one thing i did this week was show hospitality. to friends i know and friends of my family who i didn’t know before. from simply inviting them into our current home to making them tea and coffee or hanging out with them and hopefully helping them have a good time.

i also took some time to encourage some people online. from friends i know who are sick to strangers i don’t know who commented on a blog piece i wrote and seem to be in a place of struggle. nothing revolutionary perhaps and certainly quite easy to do, but hopefully in a way that conveyed love and shared hope and helped bring some life.

we broke bread and ate together with family and had conversations dealing with God and mission and how to use money well and more. wrestled a little bit with the types of shows that we watch and how each of us probably has our own hypocricies in terms of what we think people should not be watching, but what we are okay with. great food for thought and an opportunity to share ideas and learn from other peoples’ decisions.

we worked together on training up children in the way they should grow [Val’s sister’s kids who we are currently living with] and tried to love God and love the people who crossed our paths [whether they were beggars at the traffic lights or the Jehovah’s Witnesses who interrupted this blog post by ringing the doorbell to hand me a tract to invite me to a meeting to inform me why we need a one world government] and said sorry for when we had hurt someone or got it wrong. we cared for the sick as best we could [even though these sick were our own which made it a lot easier to be motivated for].

and some other stuff.

i imagine if i asked one of the early disciples of Jesus if they had gone to church today, they would have looked at me a little bit funny or completely confused.

“Go to Church? Go to Church? How do i possibly do that?”

And sure, they had the example of the temple and then later on had the practice of home gatherings [where according to Acts 2 , ‘They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.’]

i’m not convinced they had the concept of ‘Sunday church’ because it goes on to say, Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.’ [Acts 2 Parts of 42-47]

i am not suggesting for a moment, that the sunday church meeting and larger context of congregation or community is bad. no, i think it is great, especially when it is.

what i am suggesting is that maybe there is more to it than that.

did i ‘go to church’ this week? i did not.

but was i church this week? absolutely.  in some many ways that count.

and it is possibly that many people who ‘went to church’ this week spent the majority of their week not being the church? i would suggest that, given the evidence, that is a strong possibility.

i can imagine someone standing in front of God one day and hearing the words, ‘You were not the church. Depart from me and continue in the life you have chosen for yourself.’

Sunday [or whenever you have them] meetings or gatherings of Jesus-following people are the pit stops to get you ready for the rest of the week – for the work of being church – salt and light and the fragrance of Christ everywhere you go. Whenever the Sunday meeting or gathering or even group becomes ‘the thing’ then i seriously believe we have missed the point.

so please, feel free to invite us to your Sunday gathering – we do hope to visit a number of church meetings and gatherings to see what God is doing in the Western Cape – but please don’t feel the need to judge me right now for not ‘going to church’ and i will do my best to not judge you because you do.

bechurch

 

[For a post on Unlearning church and whether or not you should be able to ask questions in church, click here] 

 

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