Words Matter, Even if They’re Cliché

Remember a few years ago when the phrase “We don’t go to church, we are the church!” started to be tossed around? It didn’t take long for it to become cliché, probably because it’s both true and also rolls off the tongue. You say it now (obnoxiously, of course) after someone says something about going to church, and it will, without a doubt, induce some serious eye-rolling.

What struck me, though, as I listened to Morgan explore the idea on Sunday, is that the phrase went from novelty to cliché without anything changing. That is, “we are the church” became something we all knew and recognized, but nothing about our behavior—or even our language—about church changed. Does anyone else feel this way? I don’t know if it’s laziness on my part that I don’t change anything, or like Morgan said, we just don’t know what to do with the fact that we are the church. Regardless, I appreciate his words and am challenged to do two things:

  1. I am going to change my vocabulary about church.

I believe that until we change our vocabulary about church our perception of who we are, what we do, what it means to gather will not change.

Instead of “I’m going to church”
—> I’m going to say “I’m getting together with the church.”
Instead of “how was church?”
—> I’m going to ask “how was the time with the church?”
Instead of “what time is church?”
—> I’ll ask “what time is the church meeting?”
And on and on it goes.

When we say the former, I think we all know we mean the latter. But I also think that without making this small, simple change, we won’t really start to think about being the church in new ways. What other phrases come to mind that we say all the time? How would you tweak them? (Let’s make a list in the comments, and then let’s change the way we talk about these things!)

2. I am going to start to understand my identity as connected to the church.

I heard The Church Has Left the Building went really well, and that was so good to hear. (Thanks for sharing the pictures Darrin!) But listening to Morgan’s sermon, it hit me: “Doesn’t the church leave the building every Sunday”? Of course it’s helpful to highlight the event and to serve in intentional ways together on the special occasion, but it struck me that we have the opportunity every week to leave the building and still to be connected to one another as the church. I loved Morgan’s “I am His” t-shirt. Collectively, we should be wearing a “we are His” t-shirt, every week as we leave the building. We’re more likely to be a church of inclusion, to serve together, to live out the constant reality of being the church if we recognize that we are connected to one another—whether or not we’re in the auditorium together.

What does this look like in practice? It could be as simple as messaging one of my church friends once during the week asking: “Have you had a chance this week to include someone?” or “Have you had the chance to serve someone?” Just that, I believe, will help me remember to be the church “out there,” so that I can more honestly be the church when we gather together.

Jeremy Daggett

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