Not bound by walls

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Why there can never be an online church

Mel wrote yesterday with passion and logic: “Technology is great for processing and sharing information, but it’s terrible at making real human connections We can certainly share ideas in cyberspace, we can encourage each other and even make some level of relational connection, but the one thing we cannot do is be the Church. Jesus’ Church is made up of real people in real relationships, living real lives together in community for a common purpose, following Him the best way they know how.”

What’s to disagree?

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Yet this morning as I read the words again, I found a small voice vying for my attention. And I have come to learn that small voice is worth tuning-in to. And as I tuned-in I unpeeled a lot of stuff.

How “locally” I have found time and again distraction.  Distraction of “committees” … of “cliques and politics” … of real-life-living in real-life-communities stuffed full of real-life personal traits that have nothing to do with “following Him the best way they know how” and everything to do with being comfortable.

I remember when I first came to this blogging “community” something very different applied.  This “community” wrote with soul.  This “community” focused on “soul”.  This “community” stripped away the mundane day-to-day distractions.  This “community” allowed AND embraced what I found missing “locally” – to soul-expose myself – to come soul-naked.  Allowed and embraced AND made me feel safe.

Whereas those locally travel clothed because “local” comes with so much more.  It comes with diary issues, agreement issues, decision issues, hierarchy issues, correctness issues, fear issues, anger issues, baggage issues.  And NONE of that is “following Him the best way they know how”.  All of that is following Him the way we feel comfortable. And there is a difference.

A massive difference.

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And what struck me about this online church was its forgiving nature, its accepting nature, its stripped-back-disrobed-all-are-equal-all-really-are-welcome “culture”.

Because once I have seen you naked it is really hard to get pissed-off with you when you are clothed.  And once you have seen me naked and embraced me it is pretty hard for both of us to get pissed-off with each other.  Not impossible.

Just a lot harder than “local”.

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Local is easy!

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The very nature of “cliques” and “hierarchy” is evidence.

Church locally too often comes with hard-wired-embedded-guilt-tripping.  Do I volunteer enough … do I say the right (or wrong things) enough … do I fit-in enough … do I have value or will I be a thorn in the side … am I biblically correct (whatever that means) … do I bring an open diary to be filled on the altar of volunteering … do I tithe enough … do I turn up enough … am I keeper or a grazer …

Am I one of us?

And without seeing each soul-naked the baggage gets in the way.  And seeing each soul-naked gets in the way of the baggage.  Catch-22.  So it rarely happens.  And all are not really welcome unless they fit-in.  And all one has to do to really fit-in is to “find the right church”.

Just not this one thank you.

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This online church I love so much has connected me those who hurt, those who cry, those who anger, those who dismiss, those who embrace, those of different faiths, those of no faith, those who call themselves deconverts, those who are religious and those who are not.

This online church offers me soul-food without all the baggage.  It is open every-day of every-week of every-month of every-year and every-minute and second always.  I can come here every day – I can come here once a month – I can leave and I can return.  And I am not judged.

But one thing I find overriding and compelling above all else.

This church is not bound by walls.

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A long time ago someone asked “what does church provide that no other community or organisation or place can?”

And I found I couldn’t answer the question.

Maybe because back then I still thought “locally”.  That “church” was bound by walls and fitting-in.

And now I don’t.

Now this online community is my church – and I am free to walk naked and unchained.  Free to write my soul on a page.  Free to find unique and personal and CHANGING ways in “following Him the best way they know how”.

And I think THAT is what church provides that nothing else can.  Unless bound by walls and baggage and the “local stuff” …

Then church can’t even do that.

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Thank you Mel ((hugs))

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