Posted by: smstrouse | September 16, 2010

What Does It Mean to Be a Church Without Walls Anyway?

I had a lovely visit with one of our First United – East Bay members.  For those of you unfamiliar with our congregation, First United – East Bay is a monthly gathering of members who live on the other side of the Bay.  It’s become a small, close-knit, and faithful group of folks, some of whom find it difficult to be part of the Sunday night worship time.  This person shared with me over a cup of tea at the Mediterranean Cafe in Berkeley some feelings of guilt for not being more active over on the San Francisco side.  My response was to again lay out my vision for a congregation that is truly ‘without walls.’ 

What I mean by that is not just the fact that we no longer own our own building, which is part of it.  But I also mean that our congregational life is not restricted to the Sunday evening service.  Nor is our membership limited to those who physically attend said services.  There are people in various parts of the country (New York, Michigan, Hawaii) and the world (Japan, Germany, Thailand) who consider themselves part of the congregation and keep up with us via website, email, Facebook, etc.  I love hearing from someone in Japan that he listens to my sermons every week on our website.  I thoroughly enjoy hearing from our more far-flung members and their responses to our weekly ‘Keeping in Touch’.  And now with this blog, there are even more opportunities for folks to check in! 

The old ways of ‘doing church’ are fading away – at least as the only ways.  Being a ‘church without walls’ means going out into cyberspace, as well as the neighborhood around the building where we worship.  It means being open to creating a First United – East Bay, and maybe soon a First United – Peninsula.  It means getting ever-better about using social networking in order to connect our geographically diverse congregation. It means . . .

As always, I welcome your comments and ideas.  What would it mean or what does it mean – for you – to be part of a ‘church without walls’?

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