Tag Archives: image

What Should The Church Look Like?

What is your image of church? Would you claim that you know what God wants the church to look like? However, it can be hard to separate what we want church to be, from what God wants the church to be.

Our preferences on worship, preaching, architecture, decor, including the colour of the carpet, curtains or even the softness of the sTemple of herodeating; can all cause heated debates, divisions in the church and even cause people to leave fellowships for other places more in keeping with “what (they feel) God wants.”

Discovering What God Wants

How does the bible help us answer what God wants for his church building? In simplistic terms the Old Testament, presents an answer in terms of the building of the Ark of the Covenant, and subsequently Solomon’s and then Herod’s designs of the Temple of the Lord.

What were their answers to the question of what God wants? All very beautiful and ornate, these are buildings that communicate to a people who were generally illiterate, something of the majesty and greatness of God.

“Come, all of you who are gifted craftsmen. Construct everything that the Lord has commanded: the Tabernacle and its sacred tent, its covering, clasps, frames, crossbars, posts, and bases;the Ark and its carrying poles; the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement; the inner curtain to shield the Ark;the table, its carrying poles, and all its utensils; the Bread of the Presence; for light, the lampstand, its accessories, the lamp cups, and the olive oil for lighting;…” Exodus 35:10-14

Today we find that cathedrals and basilicas in similar ways communicate that same greatness and majesty of God and are vast landmarks on our landscape both physically and spiritually in what they communicate about the Lord.

What Should We Build?

However is a building the whole picture?  Of course it isn’t, and we see that refocusing in the New Testament story, the need of a different kind of building, indeed Jesus speaks of tearing down the physical temple. Jesus instead focuses on us building of the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom that is both seen in the world and also not yet, in terms of the eternity to come.

If we sit within the stories of the kingdom of God, such as the wedding feast, the lost son, lost sheep, hidden treasure, good samaritan, we might answer what God wants differently.

I believe that ultimately the church in its structures, whether architecturally, devotionally or evangelistically, should be a gateway to God’s kingdom, a kingdom that is welcoming, challenging, spiritually nurturing and in practical ways lives out its faith in Jesus wherever it finds itself.

We live in a world of complexity and church is complex with its traditions and expectations. The colour and decor matter yes, but not nearly as much as being the reflection of Christ to all, the worship style matters in the way it draws people into God, but not more than walking alongside people and inviting them to begin a journey with you in faith. Pretty posters matter but not more than loving people where they are, and however they are.

What does your church look like to you, are you caught up with what matters, or do you need to lay some things at the feet of Jesus. Recognising that sometimes what God wants is sometimes different to our perceptions.

Let us each this week consider what God might want, recognising our own desires and wants and putting them to one side, and being gracious with one another because, myself included, we all fall short on this one.

If Jesus Took A Selfie

Jesus_wept___painted___thumbna_by_g_owenOne of my most memorable selfies I have taken was a few years ago, when I was walking from my hotel to my ordination venue in Plymouth. It was a glorious day summers day, I had a number of my family and friends with me, and it was the culmination of years of training, and I wanted to share as a way of logging the moment, for friends and family who couldn’t be there on the day. To me Selfies communicate a message about who, what or where you are

Hypothetically if Jesus had done selfies what would be in them, what about a selfie with the crowd, just after Jesus had fed five thousand of his followers with five loaves and two fish. Perhaps in amongst the selfies with the poor, marginalised, and the centurion whose daughter he brought back to life, would be a defining moment. With the tomb stone rolled away,  Jesus is just about to walk out into the sunlight of the third new day after his death, so he lifts his phone and takes a shot. So that we might remember there is always hope.

The Oscars selfie by Ellen DeGeneres was seen by many millions of people and became the most retweeted picture ever.

Ellen-DeGeneres-Academy-Award-Twitter-Oscar-Selfie-Photo

Is a great happy photo of famous people, at one of the worlds top movie awards, its also being used to stop seal unting! The Selfie phenomena isn’t very new, but Ellen amongst others popularised it. As did the latest cancer research campaign in the UK where women posted pictures of themselves without makeup on, These pictures illustrate for us a symbolic need to strip away societal taboo or social awkwardness and getting real about certain types of cancer.

Selfies can be a powerful tool to highlight something, draw attention to an issue or indeed share your joy with the world. As Jesus people lets think about whats in our next selfie, perhaps in a church event, or where you volunteer in a soup kitchen, and or a food bank, or sitting you with a refugee. Lets let the world see what God is doing through you and with you. Not that we might win praise but that the kingdom of God might grow. If you like post your pictures in the comments below. Lets take selfies as Jesus would have, not to glorify ourselves draw attention to those who are suffering, to those with no voice. Finally do get permission first!

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