In previous posts I’ve identified Church as a noninstitutionalized, informal community. It has no creed, no elected chairperson or pastor, no voting, no budget. Deciding is done with little commotion, much discussion and no divisive arguments. The members give and receive counsel without fear of reprisal or rejection. The Church is the Body of Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the salt and light of the world.
If it appears that I am drawing a fine line between the Church and organized, established religions, I am. However, the line may be described as a dotted line that is porous, allowing for passage in and out.
Here is an example of Church ministry: Gerald Shank, son of Norman and husband of Sarah, crosses boundaries between denominations. Gerald declares that it can be wonderfully enriching when persons who bear the imprint of the Gospel of Jesus come together to share insights across the boundaries of different Christian communities.
Another example of the Church’s activity is Gilberto Perez, son of Gilberto and Elizabeth in Sarasota, Florida. He mediates among Hispanics and the police in Goshen and Elkhart County.
Goshen’s mayor, Allan Kauffman, Police Chief Branson and Gilberto Perez took their message of relationship-building and reconciliation to the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns on Sept. 30. They offered the story of how creating space for community conversations is being done in the city of Goshen and Elkhart County.
Being the light of the world and the salt of the earth does not depend on orthodox belief. In fact a strongly held belief may squelch benign behavior.
A group that thinks it knows it all, and will not dialogue or work with other groups that they deem inferior is not the Church. A group that believes that it is good as it is, and so refuses to include others whom it deems unworthy, is not the Church.
A radical possibility: secularists who behave in the Jesus way belong to the Church and are the light of the world and the salt of the earth.