Church at the Center of Life
By Andrew Gale, Executive Director of Global Strategy
At the beginning of each year, the leadership of Global Strategy meets up to discuss strategy, encourage one another, and look ahead to the coming year.
This year, that included Don and Caroline Armstrong, regional coordinators from Asia; John and Gwen Johnson, Africa; Nate and Stacy Tatman, Europe and the Middle East; Jason and Abby Torgeson, Latin America; and Andrew Gale and Stephen Lewis, from the Global Strategy office.
On Sunday, we enjoyed visiting En Mi Lugar, the church that meets in the basement of Alejandro and Carmen De Francisco’s home. The worship was vibrant and joyful, Abby Torgeson shared a powerful message, and then we enjoyed lunch prepared by Carmen (see image below). Because of the rain, we all crammed into the De Franciscos’ dining and living room to eat the meal together. It was a beautiful image of church and its intersection with life. And it was somewhat of a contrast to the ways church can become removed from daily life.
On Wednesday, we visited Toledo, the original capital of Spain, walking the streets and visiting sites that date back nearly a millennia. One of these was the Santa Iglesia Catedral Primada de Toledo, a 13th century Gothic cathedral. Most cathedrals, if you could look at them from above, reflect the shape of a cross. The two wings that make up the crossbeam of the cross are called transepts. In this cathedral, each transept has an entrance and exit. Had the doors been open, we could have walked straight through the cathedral, from one street to another. And centuries ago, that’s what they did. The cathedral was in the center of town, and the doors were intentionally opened so that people would walk straight through the cathedral to get to where they were going.
This idea struck a chord in me. The church was literally a part of everyday life. The church was a thoroughfare of people and culture. The church was at the center of life.
The metaphor of church as a place where life passes through is something that resonates with me. In many cases, churches have moved to the periphery of people’s lives. We have relegated church to a time on Sunday rather than woven into the fabric of daily life. How does your experience of church intersect your daily life?