When I went to Sunday School as a child, I was taught to fold my hands together with my fingers interlocked and then say: “Here’s the church. Here’s the steeple. Open the doors and see all the people.”
(You can watch a little girl demonstrating this on youtube – Here is the church…)
A few years ago, my friend Chris Schmaltz reminded me of this little children’s rhyme and asserted:
“That’s not the church. The church is people.”
I was struck by the reality that at a very young age children are taught that the church is a place rather than understanding the church is God’s people on mission with Him to make disciples.
The focus of this church must not be gathering believers on Sunday – the focus must be on obeying Jesus’ command to make disciples. When believers start making disciples who make disciples who make disciples, the organic nature of the church is reproducing and spontaneous.
Defining a church by its institutional features will limit its reproduction.