Just as They Do in All of Life, Forms Should Follow Function, Even for the Church...
Why Does Fellowship Seem a Little Different from Other Churches? Simple: the universal truth: “Form Follows Function.”
What?! What does “Form Following Function” got to do with being a church?
Everything! One doesn't drink coffee out of a bathtub, or take a bath in a coffee cup. One doesn’t use a dustpan to sweep dust onto a broom. One doesn't use a nail to pound a hammer into two pieces of wood in order to bind the two pieces of wood together. One drinks coffee out of a coffee cup. One takes a bath in a bathtub. One uses a broom to sweep dust onto a dustpan. One uses a hammer to pound a nail into two blocks of wood to bind them together. Typically in life, forms are designed, or take a particular shape, for a particular purpose or function.
While these examples may seem ridiculously obvious, ponder how even with respect to something as simple as footwear “form still follows function.”
Who wants to run or play sports in high heels? Or trudge miles in the snow in your slippers? Or swim with fishing waders on? Or fight fires while wearing swimming fins (now that would be a funny sight)? No way!
Fins were designed for propelling a swimmer through the water; slippers to relax in; fishing waders to wade out where the fish are; high heels…well…I am not sure about high heels. Obviously there is something about height and fashion or attraction. Bottom line: each footwear form has its function. Shoes or forms are determined by their function or purpose.
I could go on and on about the functions of pens, paper, chairs, beds, wheels, tires, cars, stoves, refrigerators, shirts, dresses, socks, hats, caps, t-shirts, blankets, checkout counters, signs, tomatoes, potatoes, squash, milk, soft drinks, energy drinks, medicines, vaccines…do I need to go on?
All the above are simply forms that were designed or created with a specific function in mind. Everything or every form in life has a specific purpose or function. The same is true of the form referred to in Scripture as the church. The church is a form, just like a hammer, a nail, a broom, a coffee cup and a bath tub are all forms, each created for a specific purpose or function in mind. Therefore, since the church is a form like everything else is a form, the question naturally arises: what is the church’s purpose or function? In the mind of God, what was the church originally designed to accomplish and why is this function so critical to God's plan?
Someone could remark, “Isn’t it obvious what a church’s purpose is?”
Maybe. Maybe not. What do you think the church’s purpose is?
One might answer, “to help people grow closer to God”. And that’s not a bad answer. It makes sense to me. But if this is the purpose, then several more questions evolve?
1) How is the church doing in accomplishing its purpose or function, and
2) Why are there so many different types or forms of churches and denominations? Are there many ways to God? Or it is a matter of different strokes for different folks?
3) And why do all these churches look or appear to be so different at times?
4) And much like a shower is compared to a bathtub, a coffee cup with a lid to hold its heat in, a vacuum cleaner or mop over a broom and dustpan, a nail gun over a hammer, a car over a horse and carriage, are there certain forms, tools or truths that work better than others? And can churches improve at their purpose? Can churches get better at their purpose?
5) And where does ritual, tradition and Scriptures come into play with respect to a church's purpose?
6) And can churches look different from culture to culture?
Perhaps understanding just what a church is, starting from the beginning, and grasping just what it was designed for, might be helpful, because after all, many who have either grown up in church, left the church, become disenchanted with the church or come back to the church, have often tried many various churches out, looking for the one that works for them. In addition, they have all had various, and perhaps even, negative experiences with the church. Perhaps the clues to many a lost sojourner’s unsuccessful attempts to fit within the modern church lies within the lack of understanding, by both church-seeker and church-organizer, of the biblical purpose of a church. Perhaps if they knew just exactly what the church’s purpose is, then just perhaps they might find the church that works for them, or better yet, fearing that the perfect church might not exist out there, they might figure out how to connect to, fit in with, serve or get one's spiritual needs met in a less-than-perfect church.
Since the universal law of “Form Follows Function" applies to everything in the universe, including the church, and since understanding the church’s purpose or function might just enlighten or heighten my church experience, let's go back to the beginning in order to discover what a church is as well as its true function.
For if God did create the church and for a specific purpose and the purpose the Scriptures will seem to espouse, then when it is done well, might not the church change us as well? Might not a biblically-directed, well-purposed church just be the godly vessel, tool or form that man has been searching for to have a meaningful and well-lived life—a life that honors and pleases our Creator and Redeemer.
For more on Fellowship’s purpose see our “Fellowship’s Purpose: Spiritual Growth” page and “Fellowship’s Approach to Creating Spiritual Growth”
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Pastor's Blog: www.imperfectpastor.com
Church Blog: http://www.fellowshipatcrosscreek.com/blog/
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