When it comes to an understanding of the nature of the church and what it is instead of what it should be in its ideal form, none of us can start from scratch in these matters. For we each come with our own preunderstandings of what the gathered church is or should be. For example, we may kneel rather than stand when we pray. We might raise our hands in worship rather than stand respectfully. We may follow or decide not to follow some penitential exercises during Lent. We may approve or disapprove of last Sunday’s sermon or ignore it as uninteresting or irrelevant. Or we may decide to go to larger gatherings or choose only to gather in small groups.
Each of our Christian preunderstandings and practices is somewhat different from that of many other Christian people. Nobody’s preunderstanding should be ignored or merely be dismissed. Each of our preunderstandings should be considered and reflected upon. Our desire must be to become a healthier, more practical, and down-to-earth faith community than we have been in the past. At the same time, we are recognising the tension that exists between our ideal version of the gathered church. And the down-to-earth reality of who as God’s people in all our messiness and dysfunctionality. Our conception and practice of Christianity and the gathered church should never be regarded as un-revisable. Instead, there must always be room for growth and change. We must be open to new understandings and practices not because of a constant need for change but because we desire to be faithful agents of God and his kingdom.