A Church Without Walls

Friday, February 15, 2019
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Matthew 4:18-20 – As [Jesus] walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea — for they were fishermen. And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fish for people." Immediately they left their nets and followed him. (NRSV)

In 2001, the Church of Scotland looked around and decided that something was terribly wrong with the church in Scotland. It wasn't just numerical decline. There was something wrong about how people — both inside and outside — perceived the church. Things needed to change, and the result was "A Church Without Walls": a report, a program, a movement with the goal of providing a "big vision" for the church, relevant to every part of the church and a guide for many years to come.

Central to the report was the re-discovery of Jesus' call to "Follow Me". The committee reporting said that instead of reading the scores of pages of their report, the committee was tempted simply to offer two words: "Follow Me". That call takes us back to be people with Jesus at the centre, travelling wherever Jesus takes us, affirming that "our core calling is to invite, encourage, and enable people to be disciples of Jesus Christ."

The bottom line has always been "Follow Me". In this day and age, we need to continually ask what it means to follow Jesus Christ. The only answer that I can give is to get back to the blueprint that the early apostles followed:

Acts 2:42 – They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (NASB)

Those are the four vital elements that make up the actual function and life of the church — and all of that in just one verse!

What happens when we follow a blueprint based on study, community, communion, and prayer? Acts 2:43 goes on to say, "Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe." Awe — a sense of reverence. It is reserved for special times when people are struck with wonder because of something divine or powerful that defies human explanation.

Are we ready to be part of a church without walls?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, call us today to follow You, and surprise us as we find ourselves in places that we'd never expect to be, with others we might never have known unless You had called them, too. Help us to be as devoted as Your early church, as we seek our own fourfold blueprint consisting of teaching, community, communion, and prayer in our own lives and in the life of the church. Amen.

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About the author:

Kenn Stright <kennethstright@yahoo.ca>
West Petpeswick, Nova Scotia, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks for the wise words, Kenn.

    Thank you Kenn for today’s devotional. Amen.

    Thanks, Kenn. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every church followed this model!

    Amen, Kenn, especially in light of the fact that we are just beginning the process of calling a new minister. Very good advice indeed.


    Kenneth, thank you for the challenge that you have set forth in today’s devotional. We surely do need the help of God’s Spirit to respond to that challenge and point others to Christ.

    Hi Kenn,
    Another great reflection. I’m going to bring it to the Session of the church where I’m interim moderator, as well as my own.
    Peace to you.

    Thank you for that “report”, Kenn! The church must remember there is more to being saved: we are called for a reason. We have a missions mandate. We are called to have an effect on the world, not to continue being part of it. Only then will we feel the “awe”, God’s Spirit moving.

    Greetings Kenn,
    Appreciated your devotional writing this morning. Yes, that truly is the best blueprint for us to adhere to in our churches today. Keeping Jesus Christ as our focal point is priority.

    Kenneth, I liked what you had to share today. Yes, we can place our priorities all too often on ‘windows, walls and steeples’, as lovely as they are. I am now a senior and have always been in awe of the mysterium tremendum when entering some places of worship. Yes, let our Lord Jesus be our pattern and guide.
    Blessings to you and yours Kenn.

    O your WONDERFUL devotional today! I had some emails to answer but I thought I’d just read it first and it hit me like a cannonball fired directly from the mothership to me, as though you had me especially in your sites. Grateful for the factual bit of church history that brings this out. Especially enlightened by the translation of the Hebrew’s quote at the end, as trying to encourage our leaders in their work has been heavy on my heart these days. Please keep writing.

    I just want to say thank you for your call to spiritual formation. I also use Dallas Willard devotional coming through Bible Gateway. Today both are saying the same thing calling back to simply discipleship. Very often these two devotionals are making the same call.
    I am also reading a book called 4 Chair Discipling by Dann Spader which tries to define Jesus’ methods of discipling. Another book that was recommended is called Discipleship Essentials by Ogden.
    Thank you.

    Our Community Presbyterian church is nestled between our Ontario Parks & our Lake front within walking distance from the shores of Georgian Bay Ontario.
    Our church sits on 2 of 5 lots. We started about 4 years ago to remove all the poison ivy, clean up the brush, remove deadfall and existing trees in some areas, cleaning etc. Last year we leveled the new area, planted trees along property lines. We will be planting much more this year.
    Our focus is to build a Green Space. We are just gearing up to make our vision our reality, an Oasis where all are welcome to come and sit relax, read a book, watch a monarch butterfly or two, birds, etc.
    This morning when I read your note it caused me to share what we will be doing as a congregation this Spring and Summer.
    GREAT TIMING my friend.

    Great devotional thank you.
    God Bless you.

    Hi Kenn,
    I was a member of a shrinking congregation that had 3 options: closing completely, moving to a new space, or merging. We eventually sold the building and merged with another congregation. All I could think about was how nice it was to be able to concentrate on doing ministry work as opposed to spending time trying to raise money to pay for a new building.
    God bless.

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