Read 1 Peter 2:4-10. What is the church? Many people think of the church as a building. People speak of the local church or the church down the road, and what is in their mind is the building. Peter portrays the church not as a building but as the living, spiritual temple of God.
Richard Rohr has mapped out the journey of many Christian denominations. A man or woman sees a unique way of doing and being church and starts something. Think William and Catherine Booth and their calling to the unchurched working classes in the Victorian slums of the East end of London. If this succeeds, then it grows into a Movement as people join the cause and feel part of something that is dynamic, creative, and purposeful. That is how Peter describes the church.
Unfortunately, at this point, human nature often takes over. We mechanise, add structure, organise, create routine. Suddenly, the dynamic, free, and unstructured Movement becomes weighed down by rules and regulations, strangled by bureaucracy.
Sadly, as more people realise, they are no longer participants in a Movement but supporters of a Machine, the Machine becomes a Monument. The Machine becomes the object of focus and attention. What becomes most important (in our context) is that we love The Salvation Army. It is essential that we belong to it (rather than whether we belong to God). That we – and others – are taking part in its activities, rather than on ensuring we are taking part in God’s work.
All is not lost. There are many Salvationists who realise this isn’t what we’re about. Salvationists who realise our calling is to be living stones, not monuments. Let’s work with them. When we do so, God will multiply our efforts. Together, we can build a beautiful house for God.
Think It Over
Think about the following:
• Is your church or denomination a man or woman, movement, machine, or monument? What part can you play to ensure it is made of living stones?