Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Outside the Box: Alternative Forms of "Church" and "Community"

Most Sundays at my house, "church" means some quiet reflection, maybe--if I'm lucky-- some poetry writing and a long walk, then listening to a sermon via podcast while cooking. Living 80 miles from the congregation where I'm a member, I've learned to look for spiritual mentorship and community in alternative forms; I can't always take the half-day to be with my church family in person.

Looking at the last few years of Jesus' life, I'm inspired at how he "made church" wherever he went, and with whomever happened to be drawn to him--even with groups and individuals the church leaders might call unworthy or unclean.

Last weekend, I drove the three hours to NE Ohio to visit both sides of my family. The kicker was that my central Ohio Mennonite church family was there, too (at a fall camp retreat just minutes from my parents' place). During that Sunday service, we even baptized two high schoolers in the camp lake, walking from the chapel while singing "Down to the River to Pray." All week, I've been thinking back on my own baptism at age 15, and how when I invited the Holy Spirit into my life, she said "OK, but I've gotta warn ya: I'll turn up in the most unexpected places and ask you to listen." And she has.

What feeds your faith walk outside of church walls? How do you build your definition of "church" and "community" in today's world? 

An Amish barn raising near my hometown. 

I happen to think that different layers of church can happen just about anywhere. If you're interested in reading more about my musings on this subject, visit and check out the "Additional Notes" section to see just some of the sources that inspire and challenge me as a stumbling Anabaptist.


  1. Loved reading this. I think many times people forget that we ARE the church out to bring the gospel to those around us, and to not just meet in one place to be fed or to feed others. Beautiful.

  2. You hit the spot! That's what the Lord is talking loudly to me about! The Kingdom of God is larger than the extense of the Church, and Jesus is walking the steets with us to keep us encountering him when we find ourselves alone or touching the lives of needy people with his love and words that are in us!