The Church: The place (part 1)
The church, the physical structure that is a tangible location is a place of gathering. It is a place of congregation that brings people from different backgrounds with a collective purpose that is usually united towards one thing. The ideal purpose of the gathering is that it is a place of spiritual service to God as moderated by men who are accepted by those in that assembly to function in. Every one coming to that place should ideally have this at the back of their minds.
We want to look at the place called the church i.e. the physical structure that allows this gathering to take place. This is not about the building as such but its function.
The church is a spiritual place. By spiritual, we mean the place of God worship. This is unarguably the primary function of the place called the church. Humanity has never had this in dispute and the scriptures attest to it. But we have to be realistic and continue this attempt at describing the place called the church.
Aside from being a spiritual place, it is also a social place. A social place is a place of interaction between members of a collective polity. Now the church is not the only social place. There are other social places. The basic definition of a social place should be any where that has a collective grouping or gathering of entities that allows for any form of interaction. Man is a social 'animal' and any where we gather, we are consciously or subconsciously interacting. But the church is a place where conscious interaction is congruent to its functionality and existence. It is in fact organized to take the fullest advantage of this social aspect. So a typical church would have various groups and groupings within its polity all forming a level or basis for further interaction.
It is impossible to take away the social aspect of the church and still call it a church. Indeed some see one of the yardsticks of measuring a church's success as being how wide and deep its level of interaction is. That is, the vibrancy of their youth, women, prayer cells etc.
There is nothing wrong or sinful in the church being a social place. In fact, it's something that just can't be denied or overlooked, and relationships (friendships, marriages etc) are brought about out of its social nature. There are people who have known no other social groupings except that which are found in the job. They start from the kiddies to the pre-teens and then to the teen groups. They were involved with the youths and then the young men and women forums. They then anchored in the elder's forums and were gathered into the cloud of witnesses in the presence of the whole church. Along the way, they picked up personal friends and friendships, found life partners as it has to do with marriage. They found business partners and associates and built wealth using these connections. The power of the social aspect of the church cannot be denied. It is indeed a social place.
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