I was around the church proper my entire life. Liturgy, planned worship service, bulletins, greeter, etc. My view of what church was supposed to be like, including the proper clothing, is how I projected what a church should be well into my early adult years.
Somewhere along my journey, I began to question this stuff. I mean, its not that it kept me from going to church or participating in the planned events, even in leadership roles, but I started loosing interest in the rules and processes, and began to focus on the purpose.
Part of a creed we said every sunday morning went something like this, "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is the One True Church....". For some reason this morning, this phrase keeps circulating through my mind,"where the Spirit of the Lord is...." which brings to question: Just Where is HE? I go to my church now and am fairly convinced he isn't there. He used to be, but no longer. I can no longer find Him in the processes. In the regulations. In the Liturgy of service.
My brother (spiritually speaking) is pastor of a new emerging faith community called Journey IFC in Austin Texas. When he first told me about this new thing, meeting in a YMCA and naming it after a rock band (just kidding), I was a bit anxious about his prospects. Even better when I learned this faith community was going to move - no, not to a church with a steeple, but a warehouse in an industrial area. Just what was he thinking? Who would he attract with this formula of doing church? How would he make it financially? Aren't there socially questionable people hanging out in these areas?
I am an idiot.
I have figured out where the spirit of the lord is. He is there, in the warehouse. In an industrial area. In the hearts, minds, and soul of this faith community who is reaching out to homeless folks, seekers who have been labeled by society, and recovering Churchianity People like me. How do I know this? I've seen it. I have also seen a Jesus who would have been in the warehouse as well as the Temple. The difference is the people. One group is practicing Jesus. The other is practicing procedure.
"Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is the one true Church". The Lord is with those who need him and seek him. Can he come back to my church? Yes. Did he leave? Maybe, but he was asked to leave. I say lets invite him back.