I’m writing from the UK. London to be precise.
Since the Autumn of 2011 our church has had our boots on the ground. Walking Church is a fresh expression of church. We don’t meet in a building or sit in pews. We meet at a particular location, and then walk to another location, while building friendships and discussing life. They also sing songs and pray along the way.
It isn’t intended to be simply a church walking group but a kind of exploration where the essentials of church take place on the journey. Every time we walk there is something more to be learned.
I reflect on what our walking says about discipleship and the joys of living life at 3 mph. Life in the slow lane is appealing but we struggle with the pace of Walking Church. We are busy people. It takes an effort to relocate a substantial group of walkers to the far side of London.
Our small church is delighted though rather overwhelmed by a torrent of interest from around the world, including a recent piece in the Mennonite World Review. Our church is moving toward the long term development of how to be a Walking Church, but there is always a danger of running before we can walk.
The Walking People of God
The people of God are fundamentally a walking movement. At the very beginning of the story – before Cain discovered the fast lane – is a memory of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the evening. Abraham came walking out of Ur. When Lot traded wandering around Canaan with his tents for some tempting urban real estate the outcome was not good.
All of Creation kept the same life-giving pace. There are many ways to understand the Fall, but one of them involves a catastrophic loss of rhythm. In today’s ecological crisis and in every doctor’s waiting room is a body of evidence. We see the appalling consequences for human well-being of living life at inhuman speed.
When Jesus came riding into Jerusalem, he stepped up the pace (see Stones Preach Sermons). Onlookers that expected a military parade were disappointed, though. His brief adoption of four legged transport was the culmination of a dusty journey from Galilee to Judea that takes up most of Luke’s Gospel, beginning at Luke 9:51.
On a road along the Samaritan border, through occupied Palestine, Jesus’ “exodus” called men, women, and tax collectors from the wayside. Even death failed to end the journey. From Jerusalem the road extended to Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. Much of Acts is structured around Paul’s missionary travels. Before the Jesus Movement became Christianity it was simply “The Way.”
The first Christian community was a Walking Church. We are trying to walk with church again today.
What do you think of this form of church?