Tonight we are discussing Chapter 4 “The Megachurch Next Door” of Tim Soren’s book, Everywhere You Look: Discovering the Church Right Where You Are.
The Invisible Church:
In the second half of this chapter, Soren demonstrates how small even the largest of megachurches are. What he wants us to do (as he has throughout his book) is for us not to see the church as a building but as a community. Throughout Christian history, theologians have made a distinction between the visible and the invisible church. As the great (Anglo-)Catholic John Henry Newman (1801-1890) writes in Tract 90, the church is a society of the faithful and not a place. (These Tracts for the Times gave birth to the Anglo-Catholic movement within the Church of England and the Anglican Communion in the mid-1800s.)
Soren begs us to see that “The truth is that there is a hidden, disconnected megachurch in all of our neighborhoods.” p.61. To see this invisible church, we need “attentiveness in prayer breathed at the street level.” p.61. Soren writes “If we see the church as splintered institutions competing for the market share of attention once a week, that is exactly what we will get.” p.63. Our individual congregations are not meant to be the team that we cheer for – they are simply meant to be a part of a greater whole. Once we begin to see the Church Invisible that is out there in the world, then we begin to see that we are all part of that megachurch. This should change our orientation.
Soren ends this chapter with his understanding that we cannot be all things, to all people, in all places. Every church has its own charisms. This is one reason why the Invisible Church is split into different congregations. Each congregation is given its own gifts to represent Christ and to be a channel of God’s goodness for a particular people. Soren points out that our place in the world comes from this particularity and the limitations it imposes. Each of us and each of our congregations is unique. Our neighborhoods are unique and our stories are unique. If we want to be truly human, then we must honor the particular. p.65.
As a particular congregation, with a particular story, in a particular place, we necessarily have our limitations. However, those limitations help establish our particular charisms. Most importantly, these limitations give us the ability to see what portion of the Invisible Church we are to go out into.
Dinner is at 6. The menu is sloppy joes. Discussion about 6:45. Compline at 8. Hope to see you here.
May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.Romans 15:5-6