The Windermere Centre’s mission is “to resource the church through hospitality and theological adventure” – but to what end? Why should we bother? What’s the point of church?
Our Director, Lawrence, explains what we’re about:
What’s the point of church?
What’s the answer to that question if church is not already your home, your family, something you’ve always done, or the place where you find a sense of belonging?
What would you say to a young person who has never been involved with church, or to someone who has left church because of a bad experience, or simply because it’s boring, irrelevant and out-dated?
Here’s an answer that works for me: “Come and be part of God’s people, transformed by the gospel, making a difference for Christ’s sake!” These are the words of the Catch the Vision statement, which is the answer the United Reformed Church gave to the question, “What’s the point of our continuing as a separate denomination?”
Unless the Christian Church is making a Jesus-shaped difference in the lives of the communities, it has no business existing, and we as members cannot justify the amount of time, energy and money that we spend to keep it going. There is far too much poverty and need and pain in the world that ought rightfully demand our time, attention and resources.
A community whose reason for existence is living for others is not selfish or self-obsessed. A group of people who are deeply engaged with the most pressing questions and problems of the day is not irrelevant. A church that insists on putting the poorest, most marginalised and most silenced people first is a living example of Jesus’ revolutionary vision of human community. And a community that is characterised by faith, hope, joy, love and compassion throbs with a life and energy that cannot be ignored. What is more, it is deeply attractive – because it is recognisably Jesus-shaped.
Churches whose primary purpose is to preserve the institution are private religious clubs. Churches that are defined by mission are previews of the transformed new world that Jesus called the Kingdom of God.
One of the most soul-destroying things for people who want to make a difference is the sheer scale of the task. Belonging to the church ought to mean being a part of a global family whose reason for existing is to change the world. That is what Jesus taught us to pray for: “Your Kingdom come; your will be done on earth …”
That’s mission. And mission is Spirit-business. Church life is about being plugged into the very Life of God. It’s about sharing in God’s world-transforming work. It’s also about being changed to become more like Jesus: “seeing him more clearly, loving him more dearly, and following him more nearly”. There’s nothing easy or comfortable about it. But there isn’t a more worthwhile, exciting or satisfying way to live!Lawrence Moore