IMG_0371#movingchurch is a hashtag to be used whenever you find yourself part of an event or liturgy or action that represents the church moving into the 21st century. Something new old. Something rooted in the tradition of the church but not bound by it.

Maybe you are worshipping in a downtown park, or collaborating with those outside the church in order to bring justice to the oppressed. Maybe you are finding new ways to teach the church’s story or new ways to live it.

The Advocate was created in 2003 to be a church for those who might not be drawn to a more established church setting. We rented worship space, met for worship at 5 PM on Sundays, and determined to “be paperless” in our communications from the start. And we realized that some ways of being church in the past, even the recent past, just didn’t seem as significant as they used to be. We were focused on welcoming questions, introducing Jesus, presenting the mystery of the ancient sacraments, and having fun.

We were a “new church” for the 21st century.

Getting A Move OnBut in 2012 we moved a 19th century carpenter gothic chapel from Germanton NC to Chapel Hill NC and restored it for adaptive re-use. We kept it a original as we could, but added heating, AC, plumbing and electricity. We also brought it up to ADA code so it could be accessed by all.

Suddenly, we were a “new old church”.

The Advocate literally moved a church. And that church move became a metaphor for moving the church into the 21st century. Some parts of the old building were so rotted, they needed to be left behind. Other parts were okay, but needed some restoration. Most of the windows were in this category. And the threshold.

The floors and interior steps were just fine the way they were. Then there were parts that needed to be added and built from scratch. Like the bathrooms! And the access ramp.

You see the metaphor?

Some of the church’s structures are worn out and simply do not function well any more. Mimeograph machine Sunday bulletins are long gone. But maybe certain committee structures need to go by the wayside as well. Some hymn tones or words simply will not function for the building up of the community any more.

Other aspects of our church life simply need to be restored. We’ve forgotten about them, or we didn’t think they worked very well for a century or two, and now they have a retro appeal, or now we see that we were wrong to let them go. Baptism by immersion, for example. Processions through the city streets.

You get the idea.

IMG_7501House church? Prayers in the public square? New ways of determining “membership” …. if you are thinking about membership at all? Liturgies without vestments? New hymnody that draws the congregation closer to God and one another? Clergy that are only paid part time by the church because they are doing something else in the world to make known the love of God in Jesus? Finding new ways to enhance “the authority of the laity”?

As you tweet away, consider letting others know of ways you are experiencing the new old church, of ways you perceive the church is moving.