The Ideal Church?

When I hear people talking
about ideal homes it usually reminds me of TV programmes like Grand Designs
where an individual or couple are looking to design and build the perfect home
of their dreams. Usually there are certain prerequisites that the visionary has
about their project, such as keeping to a certain environmental brief or
incorporating a particular design style. Usually, cost is a secondary concern,
even if this means years elapsing before the necessary resources are available
to bring the project to fruition. The outcome as you may have seen are some
truly exquisite homes which all seem to uniquely characterise the personality
and aspirations of their owners.

But is it possible to have
such a thing as an ideal church? Well the key difference I think is that when
designing and building your own home you have the luxury of giving a very
individualised response to the brief in front of you. You have the freedom to
make the home fit your requirements precisely and you ultimately have a veto
over what goes in and what doesn't. But churches aren't like that. They are
full of a range of different people all with very different ethical, political
and yes even theological perspectives. Churches certainly don't have the luxury
of providing a tailored fit for the privileged few.

Perhaps then the ideal church
should be thought of more as a meeting point for our different ideas and
aspirations. A place where one's individuality is respected and appreciated but
where that individuality is also seen in the context of community. A community
in which we don't always get what we want, but at least feel heard and valued.
A community which gives space for innovation, yet tempered by careful
stewardship and pastoral sensitivity. A community prepared to take risks yet
also co-responsible for the outcome, good or bad. To me, that seems like an
ideal worth devoting our grand designs to!

Tim