Well I've put this off as long as I could and it was either post my first blog or clean the apartment. Guess which one won? Some of you may know me as Trucker Frank of the Tony Jones videos or I may be the nut on Facebook who comes up with some really strange stuff from time to time. I am both. I am still a truck driver who loves to dabble in Theology and things of the "religious" nature. I hate writing but it seems to be one of the best ways to communicate these days even with all the technology available. So what is there to talk about that hasn't been discussed many times before. Precious little I'm afraid. I always chuckle when some fresh out of seminary student feels they've discovered the answers to life, the universe, and everything, and can't wait to get on the web and share these insights with the rest of us who obviously haven't heard them before! This is usually accomplished using the most technical language and current buzzwords that the student was able to acquire in his time in the institution. Of course we've never heard words like missional, paradigm shift,emergent(or its varied forms),post-modern,etc. etc. discussed or debated have we? We've been engulfed in conferences, books, blogs, YouTube videos, and web sites arguing both sides of the issues and all points between. I'm not going to go into these areas hopefully! I'm going to talk about things from the perspective of one who was deeply entrenched in the institution called "church" and now finds himself on the outside enjoying a new perspective on the life of faith in Christ without the constraints of the institution. I still like to look inside once in a while just to see how things are progressing within the sacred walls. For want of a better word we(the outsiders looking in) refer to ourselves as "freerange believers". I can't wait for that phrase to become institutionalized! Well,enough of the introductory BS.
Ok I lied. I do want to explain the Blogspot title for those who may not have studied medieval history. It is a pun on the empire of Charlemagne which is commonly referred to as The Holy Roman Empire (tadaaah). I am German, a Frank(in both senses of the word), holy in my standing in Christ, and a traveller by vocation hence the pun "Roaming". Ok I think you've gotten the point. So here goes.
I have for most of my Christian life felt uncomfortable with the way we use the term "church". It has appeared in a capital form as "Church" which most of us understand as the universal body of Christ or "catholic" as the early fathers stated it(never mind that both words now refer to a specific manifestation of the body of Christ). What bothers me is how we have distorted the meaning of the lower case word to refer to buildings rather than people. Let's "go to church", "I'll meet you at the church", "how was church? sorry I missed it". You get the point. My friend JD Blundell recently commented on Twitter to another friend who stated "well, I'm at church" ... "Will you be at family later?" . I wonder if I'm the only one that caught that. The point being that even at Solomon's Porch where I "gather" every other week I have heard folks refer to the building rather than the people as "church". So what's the big deal? That's the question I'm asking in this first posting. Has the restrictive use of the word church by us today kept us from exploring what really could be considered "church". Not to mention lifting the load of guilt felt by many who toss and turn on a Sunday morning battling the "sin" of missing "church".
So I'm going to ask this question: What is the minimum "form" that we need to maintain in order to meet the Biblical standards of what "church" should be? For your consideration we who Twitter together on a regular basis have referred to ourselves as "twurch". Do we qualify although we have no building, or even seen each other face to face? Many of us attend other group gatherings and yet we have come to realize we are beginning to know more about each other in a short time on Twitter and Facebook than we ever could in the 1-2 hour in person sessions we participate in throughout the week. We live in Scotland,Germany,England, Canada, the Midwest, The Nation of Texas;),the West Coast and elsewhere. We have constant communication, share prayer needs, silliness(ok thats mostly me), information,encouragement, even solitude when we want to take a break. We share photos of where we are, our families,where we've been, where we're going, what we like and dislike, our love of food and what kind of coffee beverage or tea we fancy, and sometimes we vent our frustration(all in 140 words or less per tweet!). We share our love of Christ and each other openly and honestly(although its easy to hide behind the anonimity of the keyboard or iPhone). So is this being "church"? Why can't we have this openness in our other gatherings, or can we? As I ponder this I would appreciate any input you have from your life perspective. To close this first posting I would have you consider this Scripture and its relevance if any to the discussion: John 17: 20-26. If we think "church" only occurs when there is face to face physical contact, how is the "presence" of Jesus Christ to be understood?
Grace and Peace TruckerFrank