The tabernacle as we find it in Exodus was meant to be a sign of God’s presence among the people and a signal tower for his plan. Once the tabernacle was complete, God came into the House and filled it and a cloud rested over it with fire in the cloud so all the people could see it. And the Lord told them, “When the cloud moves, you move.”
Depending on which Hebrew word for “tabernacle” we use, it can mean either a place to meet or a place that moves. That tells me God never meant for his tabernacle to get stuck in one place. It was built to move.
In other words, when God moves we move.
What I learn from my desert ancestors in Exodus changes what I understand about the nature of the Church. If “church” is designed to move, then it is more “Verb” than “noun.” Nouns sit. Verbs go. A noun is something I come to and sit in. A verb is not a monument but a movement.
Are you a noun or a verb?
“Church as a noun” says I go to church. “Church as a verb” says I am the church. Are you a noun, or a verb?
“Church as a noun” says someone somewhere is supposed to provide the programs and I am supposed to come to them. “Church as a verb” says I am a functioning part of a body together with a whole lot of others and a partner in shaping my own spiritual growth. Are you a noun or a verb?
“Church as a noun” says someone somewhere is supposed to provide me with mission opportunities. “Church as a verb” says what motivates me ought to motivate me. Are you a noun or a verb?
“Church as a noun” says the church owes me something. “Church as a verb” says if anyone owes anyone anything, I owe Jesus. Not to earn my salvation but because of what he’s done for me. My mission is defined by what Jesus has done for me. Are you a noun or a verb?
“Church as a noun” is always looking for what we used to have. “Church as a verb” is looking for what’s ahead. Are you a noun or a verb?
“Church as a noun” says you come here and we’ll show you Jesus. “Church as a verb” says we’ll come to you and be Jesus. Are you a noun or a verb?
“Church as a noun” says, “Let’s go to church.” “Church as a verb” says, “Let’s just go.” Are you a noun or a verb?
“Church as a noun” says, “Going costs too much. Can’t we just send a check?” “Church is a verb” says, “Go! Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And lo, I will be with you always.”
Church as a verb says, “When God moves, we move” — whatever the cost, whatever the commitment. Because it is only in following the Spirit, in moving with the Spirit and embracing change, that we find our pleasure, passion and purpose and bring pleasure to God.
(This blog was first posted in 2014. I repost it today in honor of the many churches preparing in this season for their Global Impact Celebration.)