This is an important question for congregations to ask, and it can be framed in several different ways:
…. as a question about the congregation’s ultimate purpose or aim.
… as a question about the nature of assembling as community of faith and what that means.
… as a question that emphasizes the “here,” compelling us to deepen our knowledge of the communities we inhabit.
… as a question that prompts theological reflection on proximity and the decisions we make to live, work, worship, play in one place and not another.
… as a question about the land, the ground, the place where your congregation gathers or where the building sits. This is a particularly powerful question because when you tell the story of the land, you tell the whole story – the story of what and who has been here, how that’s changed over time, and why. Some will find this a painful story to tell, and yet all the more important to do so. Has your congregation told this story? If not, why not? If so, how so?
… and related to that last question, a question that emphasizes the “we.” Why are we here, and not someone else? How did we get here, and what did that mean for us and for others?
All of these questions force us to think more deeply about how places and spaces form us, and how we in turn use space and place to give expression to that formation. This is a dynamic we should be paying closer attention to because it’s worth being honest about.