Where Is Your Church?

Many people ask me that question and I always have given them directions or described how our church is beautifully located overlooking Castaic Lake. It’s really a dream location – and so many people love worshipping up on the hill.

Church is NOT a Destination | missionalchallenge.comPastor Jerry Cook (Eastside Foursquare Church in Bothell, WA) helped me to realize a different way of answering the question: “Where is your church?” In his book, The Monday Morning Church, he tells the story of a conversation with Dr. Richard Halverson, formerly the chaplain of the United States Senate and the pastor of a large Presbyterian church in Washington, D.C. After speaking in a seminary chapel service, he engaged some of the students in conversation over coffee in the cafeteria. Cook relates the following

“We get together at a building on Fourth Street, but we don’t spend much time there. We’re mostly in the city.” One of the students asked, “Dr. Halverson, where is your church?” This seemed like a perfectly reasonable question to me, but Dr. Halverson looked quite perplexed and hesitated to answer. Then he glanced at his watch.

“Well, it’s three o’clock in Washington, D.C. The church I pastor is all over the city. It’s driving buses, serving meals in restaurants, having discussions in the Pentagon, deliberating in the Congress.” He knew exactly where his church was, and he went on and on with his lengthy listing. Then he added,

“Periodically, we get together at a building on Fourth Street, but we don’t spend much time there. We’re mostly in the city.”

A bomb went off in my head. All of my out-of-joint ideas about the church suddenly snapped into place. The church is people! (1)

It’s so natural to think of your church as a place. In fact, after all of the time and money that’s invested in buying land and building church buildings, it’s no surprise when you tell someone the location of your church buildings in answer to the question, “where is your church?”

However, if the church is viewed as a building at a specific location, then church is simply somewhere to go, rather than who we are in Christ.

For so long, I’ve told people that my church is up on the hill overlooking Castaic Lake.

However, I think I’m going to change how I answer this question in the future. In fact, I would hope every Christian could begin to view the church differently – as God’s missionary people who are everywhere engaged in the mission of Jesus.

If someone asks you, “Where’s your church?” – why not take that opportunity to help them view the church as people instead of a place? Of course, after a lengthy description of where your people are at any given time, you can always tell them that “periodically, we get together at a building on _____________, but we don’t spend much time there. We’re mostly in the city.”

So – where is your church? (please tell me)

(1) Jerry Cook, The Monday Morning Church, Howard Publishing Company, 2006, p. 12-13.

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Dave DeVries

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Dr. Dave DeVries is a coach, trainer, author and founder of Missional Challenge. He is passionate about coaching and training church planters and missional leaders. With 30+ years of church planting and leadership development experience, Dave brings his passion and encouragement to those he trains and coaches.
7 replies
  1. Miguel
    Miguel says:

    My church meets in villages in Africa and skyrises in Los Angeles, in living rooms and Holy Temples, in coffee shops and bars.

    My church is at once the most visible and yet strangely transparent church ever. And I love being a part.

  2. Adam Gonnerman
    Adam Gonnerman says:

    My church is driving trucks, cleaning houses and attending classes at the moment, for the most part. We’re scattered throughout north and central New Jersey.

    I’ve seen this story elsewhere before, some time back. It’s good to be reminded.

  3. Pastor Warren
    Pastor Warren says:

    My church is wherever Jesus’ heart is…which is pretty much everywhere. The little community that He has made me a part of is now scattered around the city and suburbs of Denver. Taking care of the country, taking care of their families, at cooking school learning the art of pastry, taking down Christmas lights (finally unfrozen) and spreading love and kindness where it’s needed.

    But wait, it’s not my church is it?

  4. DaveDV
    DaveDV says:

    I love hearing where the church is!

    God’s church – the missionary people of God – are all over the place.

    I appreciate the reminder that it’s His church – His body – to which we belong!

  5. Bob Carder
    Bob Carder says:

    Well, the Church is never a building nor is it a location. We don’t go to Church if we are the Church and if we are the Church the Church will gather all over the community in varied places and venues as the Church!

    You can be the Church without all those nice places we call the church! Or what?

    Do we really need the buildings, budgets, better programs and more butts in pews to be the Church? Can we be the effective missional disciple driven Church without all the other stuff?

    I love the Church but also despise the church that limits the Church from Being the Church in the world.

  6. Lance F
    Lance F says:

    Great question…really great way to draw out missional thinking. I’ve just recently begun reading your blog. Really enjoy it. Thanks for spreading the virus.

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