the Body of Christ (a series of staff reflections)

Many minds and hearts from different backgrounds coming together to effect change as one body. The following series is this body, the Good Works body, searching for the answer to “What does it mean to be the Body for the world, in the world and for the glory of God?” We all have different perspectives, different questions to be answered in this layered question. Our hope is that we may be able to start a dialog, not just within this body, but with you.


What does it mean to be the body of Christ, in the world, for the world, for the glory of God?

 

Sunday morning: Again I am faced with the question of church. Where should I go? I sigh, discomfort twisting amidst threads of thought. It has been more than two years since I moved to Athens. Why haven’t I found a church? Is there something wrong with me, or my attitude? I have tried. But, somehow I haven’t been able to connect. I am twenty-four and can’t seem to rattle myself into sitting through another church service.

Tuesday morning: I am with my friends and coworkers. “Good mornings” and coffee mugs crowd the dining room. The residents of the shelter have headed out for the day, and we meet where they ate breakfast. Someone closes the door against the incessant ringing of the phone, thank goodness. Staff members answer the phone all day—talking with many people—those seeking shelter or help with bills, eager donors, and each other as we maintain the daily operations of this organization. But now, it is time to quiet ourselves for prayer, song, scripture sharing…story-telling, collage-making, walking… hearing testimonies, honest fears and encouragement.  In my week of work, this is a sustaining hour.

My parents are Mennonite missionaries, yet I didn’t grow up going to church. When people ask me about my church background, I am usually tempted to say that I grew up in the “Isaan rice-farmers’ house church” denomination. My sisters and I spent dusty Sundays visiting newly formed groups of Thai believers. For me, this meant bumpy rides out to various villages, politely sitting on the floor for many hours and straining to interact in my limited language abilities. The meetings and the meals that followed were simple, and sometimes “poor.”  Yet, these villagers were experiencing the power of God in profound ways—dreams, physical healing, and restored relationships. I didn’t always understand or appreciate what was going on around me at the time, but looking back I glimpse something mysteriously real, and beautiful.

These days, I spend my Sunday mornings exploring the village of Chauncey. A run-down town in Southeast Ohio, it is far from Asia. I find myself surprisingly energized to be there: meeting people from the Chauncey Church of God, Chauncey Faith Chapel and Chauncey Christian Church. I am a curious visitor, and I feel as though these sincere churchgoers have a hard time understanding me.  I haven’t yet found words to explain my hopes and intentions to them, because my purpose feels somewhat “other.” Some day soon, I hope to live in this used-to-be coal mining community and take part in its culture. I hope for the movement of God in which I, along with others, can link arms with the local believers to continue to express Christ through our joined body.

These are a few of the angles from which I approach the question of what it means to be the Church. I do not intend to answer exhaustively, but rather to speak about several aspects that seem most significant to me.

— Dawn Tobin

(To read the rest of Dawn’s article about the Church, visit www.good-works.net, click on “Who We Are” and go to Dawn’s bio page. The article is titled The Body of Christ.)

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