First Baptist of Starbucks (2)
Whew, it has been a long weekend. I just went to a conference that kicked butt, drove 6 hours to get a new (old) car, got turned down for a transfer to day shift, and celebrated my mother-in-law’s birthday. I needed a couple of days to recover. Now that I’ve returned to some semblance of coherency, let’s get started with this church stuff.
To recap, I said in this post:
Read in the blogosphere after returning home from work this morning:
“He thinks meeting a Christian friend at $tarbuck$ is just as valid “worship” as attending the Body of Christ.”
To which I briefly responded:
I was posed with this assertion a month or so ago by a member of my church. Said member was challenging my teaching in discipleship class that it is wrong for us to pass up our church’s established worship and prayer times for reasons other than illness or work. Starbucks was changed to Heine Brothers Coffee. And my answer was a flat and unequivocal “Heck no.” Just meeting someone at the Heinie is no more “worship and prayer time” than reading this blog is, even though I tend to preach at ya from time to time.
I’m going to start off my approach to this topic by asking a simple question: “What is the church?” If you answered, the universal body of believers, also known as the “invisible” church, you’d be right and you’d be wrong. You’d be right because we are all the Body of Christ. You’d be wrong because we’re talking about the local church.
So let’s nuance that question. “What is the local church?” The answer is also simple — it is the local body of believers. But we’d still be wrong to a degree, because not every believer goes to the same church. So what we are really talking about here is the church of which one is a member. With me so far? Good; now let’s nuance that question one more time:
“What is the local church of which one is a member?” Now we’ve asked the right question. I argue the answer is the local body of believers that has agreed to meet at a certain location at certain times for the purposes of being the church, to which one has submitted oneself to. In other words, the local church is that congregation in which you practice being “of the Body.” This is true whether you are Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Pentecostal, or Catholic. Everyone belongs to a local church whether they admit it or not, whether they appear on a membership roll or not.
Now I am not, in my denial of the above quoted assertion, saying that churches who meet in Starbucks are not being the Body, as an astute commenter pointed out in the last post. Quite the opposite. I’ve actually established that a church meeting in Starbucks — or a movie theater, or a high school gym, or even in a bar that has light beer and Guiness on tap — is a real live church. For the sake of those who will no doubt want to nit-pick my ecclesiology, I’m assuming these places have the marks of a true church.
What I am denying, quite frankly, is that two or more Christians meeting in a bar (be it Starbucks, Heine Brothers Coffee, or the local Irish pub) for anything other than “being the church” constitutes worship. This denial raises a whole host of questions (and I’m sure others will get raised in the meta, if a meta even starts), which I intend to tackle in this mini-series. The very first objection (which is ironic because I almost always open prayers with this very thing) is the affirmation in Matthew 18 that “wherever two or more are together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” We’ll critically examine this Scripture, and I’ll even explain why I use this Scripture so often during prayer at church.
But we won’t do that right now. It’s 6 AM, my wife just got up to get ready for work, and our Chihuahua is insisting that I go to bed to keep her warm, since Momma got up. And I rarely disagree with my Chihuahua at 6 AM. So check back this evening and I’ll tackle this first objection.