What exactly is a church? Does it require four walls, pews, lectern, maybe an altar? According to some dictionaries it is a building designed for worship. Is it not more than a building? After all, don’t we sometimes use the phrase “church building?” If it is simply the building isn’t this a redundancy? What exactly comprises a church?
Last night I attended a church worship service. My attire consisted of a tee shirt, sweat pants, and my fuzzy Eeyore slippers. I had my caramel-flavored coffee and a couple of Girl Scout cookies beside me. I do not know what the other participants wore for I could not see them. I don’t know if they were in jeans, suits, or biker’s leather. Some of the names of the members were “Lurch”, “Chilly,” “Tas,” and “James.” There were several others whose names I cannot recall (sorry guys, my short-term memory is really short!). The pastor of this unique flock is a good friend of mine who I have known for years – Doc.
Doc and I have met in person only once, and that was when he stopped at the Atlanta airport on his way to New Orleans. Yet Doc and I are brother and sister, closer friends, and buddies. Many people, I imagine, might be put off by Doc’s appearance at least in the regard that perhaps they may not want to get to know him better. Doc is what you can call “salt of the earth.” What you see is what you get. He’s a diamond in the rough, and yet he glows brighter than the most highly polished of stones.
Doc has long hair and beard to match. Tattoos cover his arms, the most significant (to me) of which is the one that simply reads “1%”. For those unfamiliar with motorcycle club culture, this tattoo signifies that at least at one time he was what is sometimes referred to as an “outlaw” biker; a hard-core member of a motorcycle club. One such club with which you may be familiar is the Hell’s Angels. I’m not saying he was a member of this club, just using this as a reference point.
When I first met Doc, he was wearing a leather vest, jeans, boots, and a shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. A co-worker later confided to me he looked like someone she would not have met otherwise, in fact, would have avoided meeting. Yet when I saw him, I saw only the light shining in his eyes and the grin sneaking through his beard.
Doc has two churches, and so far, I’ve only been able to attend one. Doc is located in Texas where he has a strong flock who meet in a local building each Sunday. However, on Mondays and Wednesdays he has services of a different kind. His second church is a cyber church, the one I attended last night.
I do know that some of the members of this second church are in Texas, Georgia, New York, Canada, and Kentucky. I know this because some of the members told me that is where they were. I am a stranger to them and yet was welcomed warmly and openly. While we were not physically together, we were together in spirit with the Spirit.
So what exactly is a church? Does it require a building? No, last night was proof of that. With today’s technological advances it is possible to have a cyber church, for the purpose of a church is for like-minded people to gather and worship their God. Jesus said,” For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matt. 18:20). Now, if we are to hold that the truths of the Bible are as relevant today as they were when first written, then this truth holds also. I do not see any exceptions in that statement, do you? I do not see Him adding the condition that those two or three must be PHYSICALLY together. Since God is omniscient, I do not doubt He knew this day would come when the possibility of people from across far distances would gather in His name.
I encourage you to find a local church where you can meet like-minded Believers and worship together, relishing in the fellowship such a union creates. For those times when you are unable to attend, may I suggest you check out Doc’s church. You will find them as warm and loving as I and maybe even find a few more friends along the way.