This is a relevant, pragmatic question. Eating is essential. So it’s one that we must be asking. But I wonder if in the haste of asking that question we have often skipped the more important question: “What is dinner?”
Now this sounds silly, I know. And I know that you might even get frustrated that I would ask such a basic question. But is the answer really that obvious? Think: Do you really know what dinner is? I would assume that many people would have many different definitions of dinner. To some, dinner is a slow sit-down meal with family members at the dinner table. To others, dinner is a quick drive-thru at McDonalds by yourself on the way to another commitment. To my grandmother, dinner is lunch and supper is dinner.
And so how we live out the basic question directs how we answer the practical one. We may not realize it, but what we end-up eating and how we go-about eating is a result of our presuppositions about dinner. We might have a traditionally defined idea that dinner is a home cooked meal at 6pm. Or we might have a very loose or even complacent idea that dinner could also be a bowl of cereal in front of the television. Is a microwave dinner truly a dinner? How you answer that is based upon your presupposed concept of dinner.
Where am I going with all of this nauseous intake of words about dinner? Well, in regards to our church, I believe that many of us are tempted to ask the pragmatic question without ever considering the answer to the most basic question. We too quickly and too often ask: “What should our church do?” And just like trying to decide on dinner, we feel limited in our options, or in our ability to make a decision, or we end up settling for that which we have always done or for that which is easy to do. As a result, I think our church diet is not all that healthy.
The question about doing is a secondary one. Doing is essential. So this is one question that we must most certainly be asking. But I wonder if in the haste of asking that question we have often skipped the more important, the more radical, root question: “What is church?”
Again, I know that sounds like a silly question to ask. And I know that you might even get frustrated that I would ask such a basic question. But is the answer really that obvious? Think: Do you really know what church is? I would assume that many people would have many different definitions of church. To some, church is a slow sit-down service on Sunday mornings with people they know. To others, church is a quick in-and-out stop on the way to the real weekend commitments. To my grandmother, church is… hmmm…. I don’t really know.
So what is church? How we answer that will determine the vision for our church in the months and years ahead. Don’t be tempted to figure out dinner without defining the what and the who and the why and the when and the where first.