Maren Morris’ song, “My Church” came out last year. I’ve heard the song a number of times since it came out, the song is very catchy and though the words have always kind of annoyed me, I like the sound of the song. This last weekend I was listening to the song on the radio and I began to reflect on the words to the song.
In the first verse of the song, Morris sings, ” But I find holy redemption, when I put this car in drive, roll the windows down and turn up the dial.” Later, she sings the title line, “Yeah, I guess that’s my church.”
It’s easy for those of us who have studied the Bible to scoff at these words, we understand that this is NOT church. We laugh at the rediculous idea of your “church” being something other than church. Theologically, this idea holds no water, Christian community is a necessity of Christian faith. The purpose of church, or the gathering of Christians for the purposes outlined in scripture, cannot be fulfilled in the car with the windows rolled down.
Don’t get me wrong, some of my best conversations with God have taken place in almost the exact circumstances. One of the true joys of living in a rural area is the ability to get in the car and drive, enjoying the night air and listening to music, it can be an incredible opportunity to think about life and speak with God. Admittedly, I did this more frequently in high school when gas was $1.00 and I wasn’t paying anyways, but I get the appeal. However enjoyable and however peaceful this is, it is NOT church.
I think Christians who scoff at the idea should be very careful though. I see two problems with our derision of this mentality. The first is that too often we have the exact same problem in our own lives. What we have “made church” is actually a style of worship, a Bible study class, a building, or a preacher. Church for us is no more Biblical than the “church” in Morris’ song. The “My Church” in our lives is not more transformative, evangelistic, or communal than the church in a car with the windows rolled down.
The second problem I see with our attitude towards this mentality is this: we see it as their problem that they misunderstand what church is. There are probably thousands of people sitting at home or out on the lake or out in the deer blind or shopping in Dallas every week who “don’t need the church to be spiritual or to have a relationship with God,” and that’s just in my community, this would be millions across the nation. We see this as “their problem.” They have misunderstood what church is, they have refused to see the truth that the church is a necessary part of being a Christian and I am not absolving them of personal responsibility, but let me ask a question: What have we done in our church to prove the value of Christian community to the in their lives? Are we giving them meaningful opportunity to participate in accountability, discipleship, service, and worship? Does what our church do meet our needs or the needs of those sitting at home? I think we have to ask the question before we criticize their position on church.
So, two questions I think we have to ask ourselves every week: (1) Is church to me truly about fulfilling the functions outlined in the New Testament or is church more about my preferences? (Can it still be church if it doesn’t look and sound like I prefer?) (2) What is my church doing to provide value to the community around us?