“Where’s the church?” (Be be said like the 80s commercial, “where’s the beef?”)
In Missional Church, Darrell Guder writes,
“Popular grammar captures it well: you ‘go to church’ much the same way you go to a store. You ‘attend’ a church, the way you attend a school or theater. You ‘belong to a church’ as you would a service club with its programs and activities.” He argues that in the 20th and 21st century, church transitioned into a place where religion happened and was consumed. This means that we can choose when to show up and participate in religious activity. The church became a voluntary association; just another slice of our otherwise busy life.
Scripture, however, has a radically different understanding of the church. Paul routinely refers to the church as the “body of Christ,” or the “aroma of Christ” and even acknowledges himself to be an “ambassador” for Christ. This understands the church not to be a place where religious stuff happens, but to be a grouping of people that are actively sent into the world in order to demonstrate God’s love.
Where is the church? The church is where people are seeking to share the good news of Jesus Christ through word and deed. Like perfume, the presence of Christ in our lives will naturally exude from our daily activities.
In 2 Corinthians 2:14-17, Paul says that “through us spreads in every place the fragrance that comes from knowing him. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing … For we are not peddlers of God’s word like so many; but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence.”