Hey everyone, this is Jeff, doing my best to give this blog justice and give Don a day off at the same time.
Click here to view the video on Youtube
I love this video clip! I’ve watched it dozens of times, and I still crack up laughing every time I see it. A former co-worker of mine, a German guy named Wolfgang, introduced me to the clip, so I don’t feel too bigoted sharing it with you. All humor aside, it truly is a great example of how one misunderstood word can screw a lot of people. This is how I feel about the word “church.”
Last Sunday, Don shared with us his vision of a membership-free church – a church that may have some “regular participants,” but no “members” – a church where the V.I.P. is that person out there in South-Central PA still yet to discover actionchurch! To summarize — if you are looking for a church where your family’s name can be placard to your favorite pew, you’re probably going to be disappointed here.
As Don spoke, I couldn’t help but remember something I studied long ago about the word “church.” You see, words change over time with usage, and many times they lose their original meaning all together. Take the word “gay,” for example. A generation ago, it meant “happy.” Today, it would be utilized much more effectively as an adjective describing Don’s argyle sweater-shirts. (Sorry Don, I just couldn’t resist.) In New Testament times, the word “church” simply meant a “gathering,” or a “crowd,” or an “assembly.” It was often used in secular texts describing crowds of people gathering in the public square, or sometimes as the gathering of an army to prepare for battle. There really wasn’t anything sanctimonious about the word at all. The word “christian” was literally a pejorative meaning “little christ.” In other words, you could easily translate the phrase “Christian Church” as a “rowdy crowd of rambunctious little christ followers.”
Sounds a lot like actionchurch to me! Go figure – we thought we were anti-establishment, but we’re probably more like the original thing than we thought!
At any rate, I don’t mean this to be a boring etymology lesson. What I’m trying to say is that we all associate certain feelings with the word “church.” To some, it evokes powerful emotions of past hurts and carries with it an extremely negative connotation. To others, it is still a rather foreign term. I can’t help but wonder how much confusion, grief, and turmoil has been caused simply from our misunderstandings of a single word. Unfortunately, we are forced to use it. (If we called ourselves “actioncrowd,” nobody would have a clue what we were.)
actionchurch v2.0 will be a great chance to continue setting aside our assumptions about church, and to watch this thing morph into a dynamic body of “little christs” serving each other and reaching out to this community.