Reinhold Scharnowski has some good thoughts on the Christians who won't be turning up to a worship service today, but who are just as much a part of the family of God as anyone else.
Here is Reinhold's post:
"John Barrett estimates that there are 112 Millions of churchless Christians - men, women and children who confess Christ as their Lord but do not belong to any of the traditional churches. This number is growing fast. I know at least 50 of them. Either this is the Great Apostasy or it is a Great Apostolic movement. Apostolic means "to be sent" - maybe many of these are "sent" out of the Church walls and into the world God so desperately loves? This would necessarily require a radical new-definition of "church": liquid, dynamic, defined by relationships and not by meetings and structures. If we take this seriously - wow! If church is "the ever changing form of God`s mission into the world" (one of my own definitions), then church is - and has to be - a reflection of the way people live and relate to each other. I still believe in meetings - we will need them until the end, I think - but they are not the essence of church, just one of many ways church becomes visible.
This weekend is Pentecost - a great time to reflect more and deeper on these things that will determine my personal future a lot."
Reinhold heads up DAWN Europe from his base in Switzerland. He will be participating in our Global Roundtable at Greenbelt Festival on August 26th. Should be great to have him here in England. His writings on postmodernity and its impact on the European emerging church may be the first written in the German language.
My friend Peter Brierley told me that he believes there are more Christians outside of church than inside church in Great Britain. From what i and Reinhold have seen, i would have to agree. Another friend, Alan Jamieson, wrote a book called "A Churchless Faith". His research for the book showed that many of these people who have left are actually leaders who wanted to grow spiritually and could no longer do so in the confines of the established church.
I believe a deep ecclesiology has to allow for those outside the traditional "line" of what it means to be a Christian. Evangelicals and protestants have been outside the Roman catholic line in the past.
(I heard that the original word for line was "paga" from which we get the word pagan - one outside the line- I dont know Latin, but does anyone know more about that?).