the weblog of Alan Knox

Artificial or (Super)-Natural?

Posted by on Aug 7, 2007 in blog links, gathering, spirit/holy spirit | 2 comments

Jeff at “Under the Grace” wrote an interesting post called “Test-Tube Church“. He describes feeling “disconnected” during the weekly gathering of believers. This is how he describes it:

Each element of the service has been carefully thought out and replicated in churches all over the world. We we don’t want to miss any biblical element. Prayer, giving, Bible-teaching, communion, and fellowship. It’s all there. In an artificial sense.

And yet it feels manufactured. It’s test-tube church. Everything is there while none of it exists in its substantive form. I feel estranged from the people I’m supposed to call “Brother” and “Sister.” We do communion but is it really communion? We have greeting time after announcements but do we really fellowship? Sadly, the longer this goes on the more I feel disconnected from it all. It makes less and less sense.

Manufactured… test-tube… those are good descriptions. I’ve said before that I prefer a meeting with believers that is choreographed by the Spirit, not planned by professionals. I think this is what Jeff is describing has well. This is how he concludes:

I long for a simpler church. I want the church (the people not the building) to direct spontaneous, loving praise to God. I’d like the Holy Spirit to become our music director. I long for life. You can have test-tube church but I want more direct fellowship with God and his people. I’ll take the outdoors over this greenhouse.

It seems that so many church meetings are dependent on people’s musical excellence and homiletical prowess. I wonder… are there some followers of Christ who would not recognize Jeff’s “simple”, Spirit-led meeting as a meeting of the church?


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  1. 8-7-2007

    “I want the church (the people not the building)…”

    I read this a lot on your blog, Alan, and it struck me that I’ve never thought of the church this way, as a building over a group of people. Maybe from the tradition I come out of this is not such an issue…is this a major problem in churches in the south or in the broader US? Just curious as to why you point out this distinction often.

  2. 8-8-2007


    Just as a point of clarification, the line that you quoted was actually a quote from Jeff’s blog. However, you are correct that I have mentioned that often. Yes, in the places that I have lived, the building is considered the church and the organization is considered the church. Those are usually emphasized and given priority above the people themselves. I don’t know if this is a problem in other areas of the country or in other (non-baptist) traditions.