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By It\\\\\\\'s Just Raquel
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That place called "church"

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Every Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people who call themselves Christians, gather at a morning or evening service (with a potluck afterwards, if you’re lucky) in a building called “church”.  They sing songs, listen to hear a 45-minute sermon, chat with the people they only see once a week, and then go to their respective homes to live another week of work and play, and show up in seven days to do the same routine.

And that’s what it is to a lot of people.

A routine.

Every once in a while, you might meet those “behind the scenes” church goers.  The ones who are at the church before anyone else is – setting up, prepping for the long day ahead and for the crowds that will soon ensue the building.  There is definitely a lack of commemorating these individuals for their serving hearts, so shout out if you’re one of them!

For others, going to church is just “the thing to do”.  It’s the way they were raised and how their parents were raised.  And they know their grandparents would be disappointed if they didn’t dress nice in their Sunday best and go to the presbyterian church down the street.

It’s almost like a mandatory lifestyle.  Something people feel obligated to do.  Heaven forbid you don’t attend church if you call yourself a Christian, because once you title yourself as one, not going to church would appear sinful and hypocritical.  (Oh and don’t forget to take communion.)

I think I can safely guess that if you were to ask anyone, “What is the church?”, you would most likely receive an answer along the lines of “It’s a place that Christians go to on Sundays”.  They would refer to the church as a location, a building.  And while that is the convenient name for the gathering place, “the church” itself is much more than that.  It’s the title of the group of people who follow Christ.  Maybe you’ve heard that answer too?

A good verse that clarifies that statement is Ephesians 5:23.  It says that the husband is the head of the wife “even as Christ is the head of the church, His body, and He Himself is its Savior.”

But let’s take it a step further, shall we?

The overall American culture view of church is “attend, sing, listen, leave”.  And while I firmly believe that going to church is very beneficial for my spirit, and a necessary for community, fellowship and challenging my spiritual growth, I just as firmly believe that my faith isn’t restricted to the four walls of a building.

I can worship God anywhere.
I can listen to a sermon anywhere.
I can meet up with fellow believers anywhere.

The significance of my faith isn’t determined by the number of Sundays I manage to make it to church.  If that were the case, I’d be a pretty bad Christian since I only went to church once this month.  (Does that make you cringe?  Sorry, I don’t have time to explain my personal life and reasons why I didn’t attend.)

My point is: if you have a personal relationship with God, you are the church.  His Spirit resides in you.  Your body is the literal, physical temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), so worshipping Him isn’t something that should only happen on Sunday mornings.
Honestly, God has met me more powerfully while I’ve watched the sun set in the Argentinian countryside than in a lot of churches I have visited.  Why?  Well, my guess is because the majority of the people attending those churches were doing so out of obligation, not because they had a yearning to meet with Him.

“God created everything that surrounds me – the fields, rivers, the forests.  The land is my church.  And I pray.  Each day.”
- Uhtred Ragnarson, The Last Kingdom

You don’t need rows of chairs and a stage to officially be in church.  You don’t need a bunch of instruments and “professional” worship leaders to praise Him.  All you need is a willingness to learn about Him, to know Him more intimately, and He will always meet you in the moments you set aside to spend in His presence.

I am a member of the body of Christ, the family of God.  And I love the church I attend every Sunday (or as weekly as possible) because I love to be surrounded by fellow believers.  The people there have welcomed me into the family, the messages I hear are thought-provoking and feed my soul, the worship is incredible.  I don’t go because I have nothing better to do and I want to keep up a good appearance.  I also don’t worship God only on Sunday mornings.  His Spirit is tangible in that place.  Yes, in that building.  But it’s not because it’s a holy location.  We make it holy by acknowledging His presence there.  So if that is the case, then why can’t my place of worship, my “church”, be in the forest I go for a hike in, or at the foot of the waterfall I discovered, or in my bedroom with my Christmas lights flickering around me, or in the car on my way to visit my family, or while showing my friend one of the best views of Portland?

I speak His name everywhere I go.  I try to share His love with as many people as I come in contact with.  I watch sermons and listen to podcasts because I love being encouraged in my faith and I am uplifted when I hear words of wisdom from teachers who I can learn so much from.  And I worship my God through my service, through my words, through my writing, through my music.
There’s no limit to how much we can praise Him.  So why confine it to one day a week at a place on 15th and Cedar?

“For through Him, we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.  So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the LORD.  In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”
- Ephesians 2:18-22


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