With our upcoming transition to Poland, we've been thinking about what are the essentials of church. Our mandate is to start a community centre, but more than just pick-up hockey, it must be a place where people can come encounter God and develop a relationship with him. The question on our minds has been how do we transport the essentials of a Christian community and allow them to take shape in the context of a community centre?
By now we've all heard the expression "think outside of the box" (a cliche about cliches that has become cliche - what a kicker). Within modern Christian culture there seems to be a stigma attached to anything in the box. Personally, we are grateful for Hillsongs, Billy Graham books, the present day church and programs. After all, they helped get us to where we are today. Christians are part of a subculture with our own celebrities, vernacular, and community practices. All of these things are "in the box", but none are necessarily bad. The real challenge of thinking beyond our borders is how to take the core elements of our faith and move them outside of these now commonly found forms.
We posed this question while speaking at a youth group and it was a good dialogue - we're not pretending like we have this all figured out. Within 15 hours of this talk, God put our own words to the test as Matthew had a great time with a self-proclaimed "orthodox atheist" (because modern atheists have gotten soft and he is from the old school of atheism) and Amber shared about life and understanding God's plans with a Pakistani Muslim lady living in an arranged marriage.
Admittedly we are working on the answers to the question "what is church?", but what is clear is that God is going to take us up on this question.