God outside the church

Do we meet God outside of the church?

I’m sure we do.  I experience God in all sorts of places.  In my work I often ask people where they feel close to God and almost all of them talk of places other than a church building.  Not that they don’t ever feel God’s presence in church, but the vast majority of people experience God in lots of other places.  On top of mountains, washing the dishes, in bed or on a train.

How do we value these kinds of experience of God?  Does our church language enable us to help people see that these experiences of God are just as relevant and valuable as any experience of God we might have inside a church?  Or do we never mention that God lives outside the church?

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7 Responses to God outside the church

  1. pmk1977 says:

    I would have to say that in my experience it’s always been part of ‘church’ to emphasise that you can experience God outwith the church setting. That’s not just my current experience but is based on having been an attender of various churches throughout the years. I would also have to say that the churches I have attended have been of various worshipping styles, not only the ‘traditional’ style, and the link between everyday experiences of God has always been made. I would struggle if the overriding feeling in church was that the main experience of God is in an hour long service on a Sunday morning. I certainly don’t like to think of God being limited to an hour once a week!

  2. swryv says:

    In what ways have you encountered people being encouraged or enabled to share their experience of God with each other and with those who might not be members of the church community? I know this is an area that lots of churches struggle with so any examples would be great!

  3. pmk1977 says:

    Now that’s different to the subject of your original post!

  4. Stewart says:

    You said that churches you had encountered did value these experiences people have of God outside of church so I’m just asking how those churches did that.

  5. pmk1977 says:

    Did I? I thought I’d said that churches I’d been at had emphasised that God is not just found in the church building, that God is with you in your day to day humdrum life and that you can have just as meaningful experiences of him then? That emphasis would come from sermons, songs, prayers…all the components of the trad service. I’m not really sure it’s as explicit as might be being suggested – today is probably a bad example because it was an explicit message. We were thinking about what it means to ‘minister’, not just in the sense of being an ordained minister. More in the sense of us all being asked to ‘do’ ministry, and how what we do can perhaps have a massive impact on the people we encounter, people who may never enter a church building for Sunday worship.

  6. Geoff says:

    ‘I experience God in all sorts of places.’ What do you mean by ‘experience’? What comprises this event?

  7. Stewart says:

    Feeling that God is present. It’s difficult to explain because I can’t point to a set of physical characteristics or circumstances. Just a sense that God is there.

    I have felt God in the middle of a U2 gig and when I was alone in my room.

    I would also say that I see God in other people. In their actions and demeanor, but others might see that as goodness or kindness where I see God.

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