Most people are familiar with the scene on a Sunday morning: Christian believers attending a service of worship which often includes hymns, prayers and a sermon. And when it’s all done, the faithful file out of the door and go home until the following week when the situation is repeated.
But what happens on Monday morning? Are they still a church? Do they have any function or purpose for six out of the seven days of each week?
The answer is yes.
One Christian theologian has made an important and helpful distinction:
- the church is an organisation – the assembled church with its weekly routines arranged under a specific structure of leadership
- the church is an organism – the church as the living,moving group of people, going off into the world as they leave the gathering
This means that we don’t stop belonging to the church when we leave the building.
Thinking of church in this way suddenly gives our daily occupations immense significance. Whether we are homemakers, teachers, business people, healthcare professionals, or students, we continue being members of the church in our given roles.
A little history of vocation
The organised church of the Medieval age had unfortunately professionalised the idea of vocation within Christianity – the idea that one is called by God into his or her service to become a priest, monk or nun, but nothing else. The effect of this mentality was to drive a wedge between the clergy (the professionals) and the laity (regular people who relied on those with a calling to ‘do’ religion on their behalf).
However, the Protestant reformation saw a huge shift in the attitudes of the church, re-establishing the biblical teaching that every person has a calling from God to be ‘salt and light’ as Jesus put it, influencing the surrounding culture by operating as one whose life and calling have been radically shaped by the gospel of Christ.
Seasoning the culture
As a result of this shift, one Christian scholar writes:
[Believers are no longer] at the fringes of the work of the church; they are the church, filled with the Spirit, doing its work in the world…Though heavenly citizenship does not bar them from belonging to earthly kingdoms, it commits them to discharge their duties and seize their opportunities as servants of Christ. All Christians, whether…merchants, artisans, labourers, counsellors or social workers, need to explore together the demands of their work.
Edmund Clowney, The Church, Downers Grove: IVP, p. 114.
Therefore as a church, we are committed to coaching, training, assisting and encouraging our people who carry out the calling of the church in the world.
This may simply be seen in equipping the church with evangelism skills or providing them an outlet to invite colleagues and friends to various church-run events.
However, our movement through goes further.
As a church we want to equip people to be the best they can be in their given vocation. Whether in the world of business and commerce, in health and social care, in education, in the media, in politics, in public service, or any other field, as employees or employers, we want to train and assist people to work their God-given vocation from a biblical perspective, seasoning the culture in a God glorifying way.
This may be developed into any number of avenues, which may include formation of vocation-specific study groups and increased engagement with parachurch organisations.
We are a church that moves through