Re-imagining Church

I believe in reimagining the church.

Which isn’t really a controversial thing to say; it’s actually normal to the point of being routine. People who reimagine today might consider themselves progressive or cutting edge, but are bound for disappointment when they discover that they’re late to the party–by a couple thousand years.

The church has always reimagined herself. Church as we’ve inherited her has been reimagined so many times that today’s Western church would be unrecognizable in many ways to the first Christians. Here’s just a handful of things the first Christians wouldn’t have recognized (and aren’t found in the New Testament):

  • senior pastors
  • church buildings
  • church membership
  • youth group and Sunday School
  • the phrase “a personal relationship with Jesus”
  • worship services without the Eucharist/communion
  • the Eucharist/communion without a meal
  • unbaptized Christians (who were not planning on being baptized)
  • 501c3 non-profit status, tax exemption, incorporating with state government

This is far from a complete list, but each item has far-reaching implications for how we conceive of and practice church.

Now here’s the fun part, so please keep reading.

Pointing out differences like these is in no way an indictment on today’s church!! Church as we know it has been shaped by God working with people, in and through their culture. It’s just a reminder that God isn’t trapped in time–or Acts 2, or 2015. Our current church methods and practices didn’t tumble to us straight out of the pages of the Bible.  Which, while potentially terrifying at first, can be one of the most exhilarating and liberating realizations we’ll ever make.

If the people in the first century didn’t practice church the way we experience it today… then we don’t have to either.

But wait!! Before we start chucking everything we know to the curb, it is crucial that we pause to take stock of our hearts and motives.

Imagination is born from hope.
Bitterness kills dreams.

First and foremost, we reimagine because we love the church.

Our dreams don’t spring from wounds or arrogance. Our vision isn’t fueled by fear or condescension.  We don’t reimagine because culture claims that we have to. We reimagine with eager expectation because our God says we get to.

This is enough for now.  We can get into more specifics in future posts (but here’s a hint: it all begins with rethinking the role of the weekend service!). We’ll end with a final word:

If this doesn’t resonate with you, I hope I haven’t offended, and please know you’re in a good spot. The church around us is great–keep it up!

But if it does resonate, know that You.Are.Not.Alone.

If this feels like a breath of fresh air–then may the Holy Spirit breath wind into the sails of your imagination. Go grab a few friends, invite your church leaders, open a Bible–and begin to dream.

And then bring your dreams to life.

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About Tim Owens

I'm a husband, father, and Christ follower. I also live in Albany, NY, where I work as a pastor.
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3 Responses to Re-imagining Church

  1. tlanglois@reagan.com says:

    Pastor Tim; thank you for sending this along. I find your thoughts facinating. Please keep them coming. I am not on social media so email is my only source. The archives are great. Tom Langlois

  2. Judy Langlois says:

    Pastor Tim – 11/10 blog really joggleing (?) the thoughts and ideas in my head!
    Thank you much for sharing. Have a wonderful God Created day!
    JudyLanglois

  3. Laura says:

    “Imagination is born from hope. Bitterness kills dreams.” Love this.

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