What would Jesus say to us today?

What's in a word? Or more explicitly how does the way we interpret a word affect our thinking. Specifically when you think of "church", what comes to mind? An ancient building, of which we have hundreds in Norfolk, dedicated to the worship of God.

What's in a word? Or more explicitly how does the way we interpret a word affect our thinking. Specifically when you think of "church", what comes to mind? An ancient building, of which we have hundreds in Norfolk, dedicated to the worship of God.

A place where people gather on Sundays to do things that most of the population think is weird, like singing hymns to someone you cannot see, or praying to a man stretched out on a cross.

Or maybe a modern building that has facilities that the wider community can access, but that still retains a special place where Christian activities of worship and prayer take place.

I have news for you if this is what you think the word church means. It comes from the Greek "ekklesia" meaning to be called out.

The trouble is that down the ages we have come to associate it with a building rather than a body of people, set apart by their love of Jesus, to bring that love to those who do not yet know him. And we are wrong.

The penny dropped for a friend of mine who lives in Surrey. He attended a Baptist church and one day asked God how he saw the churches in his town. He was somewhat taken aback when God showed him that he did not see the 14 or so congregations that gathered every Sunday; instead he saw just one church, one body.

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It changed my friend's thinking forever. He realized a lot of the activity that was taking place was about building man's kingdoms, rather than God's. It shook him and ever since he has spent all his time and money on getting this message across. There is only one church in each community and God wants it back.

It's all there in the Bible anyway, only we have mostly been too blind to see it.

In the book of Revelation, Jesus writes to seven churches. Each letter is address specifically to a city; Ephesus, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea. There is no mention of C of E, Baptist, Vineyard! God just does not see it like this, and if he doesn't, neither should we.

In a brave step, the organization of Christian congregations in Greater Norwich, last year renamed as Transforming Norwich, asked at a recent gathering: "If Jesus were to write a letter to the church in Norwich, what would he say?"

Out of day long reflection and repentance, people's thoughts were put on to graffiti boards. The chairman, John Betts, has since penned a letter based on those reflections. It makes sobering reading, and it's worth quoting in full:

"These are the words of Him who holds the keys to the Kingdom. What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open.

"I know your works. See I have set before you an open door that no one can shut. You have a great history of prayer and compassion for the poor as shown by the depth of your involvement in social action amongst the needy.

"But I have this against you. Your congregations and denominations separate you from one another and you love to have it so! Independency has become a stronghold which keeps you from one another and prevents My Kingdom purpose from being achieved through you.

"Change your way of thinking and act differently. Put my kingdom purposes for the city first, humble yourselves, out do one another in showing love and work together as one body.

If you hear my voice I will make Norwich a beacon to the nation and I will corporately bless you.

"He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the church."

To view this story in full, see www.networknorwich.co.uk

I think we need to pay attention and look to what we are building across Norwich. As Director of a Christian agency in Norwich, I know just how easy it is to work to build my little kingdom in isolation from others doing their own bit.

I can get very protective of our team of volunteers, our particular focus and especially of our financial resources. It is so easy to forget that it all belongs to God and that we are doing it in his name, not ours.

I will never forget the response of someone running a local trust who was approached to support a Christian charity. He said that he would gladly help once he could be convinced that the congregations in Norwich were truly working together, rather than in actively competing. So far, competition was all he had experienced.

Jesus said that the only way outsiders to Christianity would believe, would be by the love we showed each other. We need to pay attention to this wake-up call.