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  • Writer's picturePastor Mark Porterfield

🎶The Church is Not a Building🎶

And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generositya— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.

Perhaps you're familiar with the old adage - "be the church."

Or maybe the old hymn?

🎶"The church is not a building,

The church is not a steeple,

The church is not a resting place,

The church is a people!"🎶

It's all true. The church is a people! Wherever people interact, there is the church interacting with people.

And every person-to-person interaction can be described by one of three postures. No, really - every single one.

1) Shoulder-to-shoulder. This is the posture we take as we work together ("next-to") one another towards a unified goal, or when our attention is fixed on a singular point. You were shoulder-to-shoulder the last time you relaxed to with your spouse to catch up on your show before the next season premieres. You were also shoulder-to-shoulder the last time you attended a Cameron Yoe game. And at that game the Lady Yoe or the Yoemen were shoulder-to-shoulder as they faced off against their opponent.

2) Face-to-face. This posture happens when two or more people are (**spoiler alert**) facing each other as they interact. The object of attention is the person you're facing. You were face-to-face the last time you had a meeting at work or ate dinner with your family.

3) The last posture we take towards others is actually an anti-posture so to speak. It's the posture of back-to-back. This happens when two (or more) people are not interacting at all. Think of the last time someone literally turned their back on you. That's a back-to-back posture. At times a back-to-back posture can be healthy, but before you assume this posture you must really ask yourself if turning your back is a true holy expression of love, or a selfish desire for control.

Now, if "the church is a people" then we as the church necessarily adopt these postures with and towards others.

Take worship, for example. In worship we are the shoulder-to-shoulder church as we collectively fix our attention on God. I mean, literally we sit shoulder-to-shoulder.

For many of us, this is the only church we do. If that's you, then I'd like you to imagine what it would be like to live the rest of your life with only shoulder-to-shoulder interactions. As I imagine it myself, it seems grim and lonely despite the fact that crowds may surround me.

We need more than just shoulder-to-shoulder life, and we need more than just shoulder-to-shoulder church. That's where face-to-face church comes in! Take for example a Bible Study, Prayer Group, Fellowship Group, Youth Group, or Sunday School. These and many more examples are all face-to-face church. The person you sit across from becomes the object of your attention in these spaces. It's here that you have the opportunity to be more than another fan of the team or worker in the machine. You get to know others and be fully known by them.

Here's the amazing thing, friends - our God is a person! Three persons actually. One God, three persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And God's posture works into this shoulder-to-shoulder/face-to-face/back-to-back scheme too.

Like when you sit shoulder-to-shoulder with others in worship, realize that you're face-to-face with God! And as you sit face-to-face with others in a small group or at a meal, you're shoulder-to-shoulder with God! He's there interpreting, praying, teaching, guiding, and leading with us in those face-to-face encounters.

You need all of this to be a spiritually healthy Christian, and we need to provide these opportunities to be a spiritually healthy people called the church.

This lenten season, ask yourself - is your only church interaction shoulder-to-shoulder? Is it mostly face-to-face? Is it back-to-back? How can you get more of what you're lacking? Is it because you are avoiding it, or is it because there's no opportunity? Let's get creative as a church to bring opportunities to Encounter Jesus to each other and to this community.

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