What If The Church Is An Apple?

Several decades ago, there was a trend in nutrition science toward the study of “micronutrients” – on identifying and isolating individual vitamins and minerals and their effects on health. Of course, nutrition-related industries quickly grabbed onto this research, using it to develop and sell manufactured, “fortified” foods and individual supplements. In fact, I remember seeing magazine articles promising that one day we would not have to waste time buying, preparing, and eating actual food, because we could receive all our required nutrients from a handful of pills.

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Of course, we’ve now realized (duh) that there is value in actually eating an apple, not just in ingesting its component nutrients. There is tremendous benefit in every part of apple-eating. There are the nutritional benefits of the fiber, the vitamins, the juice. But there are also physical benefits from biting, chewing, swallowing, and digesting. There are even psychological benefits from the enjoyment of eating, and of eating something good for you. In other words, the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. 

In the same way, over the last several decades we’ve propagated (or at least have not discouraged) the idea that church is just a collection of services, opportunities, and activities, and that you can get all the nourishment you need by piecing these together from difference sources: a youth group here, a small group there, a sermon from this web site, a mission trip with this church, a Bible study at that church.

But what if the church is an apple?

Look: I’m all about Kingdom, and dead against churches building isolated empires. But I believe that in God’s design, church was meant to be ingested and digested whole. Church isn’t just about consuming separate spiritual nutrients; it’s about what happens when a group of people partake of them together, regularly, over time. There are significant personal and corporate spiritual benefits gained from this process. The whole is far greater than the sum of its parts.

Changing our paradigm of church is dangerous. It’s difficult. It will be disruptive. But I believe our spiritual health depends on it. 

  

For Your Consideration

  • Have you encouraged or enabled a micronutrient view of church?

  • How can your ministry promote a wholistic perspective and practice of church?

 

Angie Ward