At CMC we have 4 values identify our church: Gather, Transform, Formation, and Beauty.
When my grandma went to church it was a different time. Churches assumed cultural privilege and most people were Christian, at least in name. Churches were scattered based on geography, and each of those areas of responsibility were called a parish. Focussing to neighbourhoods isn’t such a bad idea, but then churches became stuck, incapable of innovating beyond the assumption people would naturally come to the local church to live out a transformative faith.
Luckily God is not contained into the parish of a church. The Kingdom of God, (the hope that God has for all of creation to one day put the world to rights,) transcends our ideas and assumptions of space. God can’t be contained into our tiny theological boxes, or our church buildings.
The Christian faith doesn’t rest on the hope of one day escaping this world for eternity in the clouds, that’s escapism and hardly reflects orthodox Christianity. There’s a critical understanding (more of a mystery than an understanding that can be fully grasped), that wee don’t make a place for God, rather God came to US (John 1, Phil 2:5). Not only that, the very nature of Christ is ‘God with us’; the incarnation makes the creator of the universe accessible, translatable, real to the touch.
God cannot be restricted to church buildings or programs, rather, God’s hope actually proceeds with or without a participating church. We’re invited to participate for sure, but the Kingdom goes into our city and beyond without our help, transforming people and spaces along the way.
This suggests something unique.
Rather than continuously thinking of ways to congregate people into a church service, can we shift our lens to look for the places where God is already at work in people and places in our neighbourhoods and networks?
We can’t go back to grandma’s church, that time doesn’t exist. We can’t assume that the church has very much public equity left either. Rather, look for the places God is already at work transforming. I think when we notice God already at work we become a part of transforming ordinary places into our own parish. Not a parish restricted to a church building or area, but the places where we already exist and say, “yes” to participating in God’s unfolding hope for all of creation in that place.
From ordinary places into transforming parish, that’s what we’re trying to live out in the neighbourhood and beyond.