Airports & Churches

I have spent days of my life in airports. Not at one time. Collectively. Four hour layovers on international flights add up.

Give me a random set of airport maps, and I promise I can identify the airport. Domestic or international. I've got them memorized. That is a result of the maps at the back of in-flight magazines. On a side note, I am a map junky. I love them. It's fine to call me weird for that quirk. I accept it.

Some days I feel more at home in the airport of a city than the city itself. It's what I know. It makes me feel comfortable.

I catch myself from time to time referring to cities by there airport code. LAX. ATL. SFO. DFW. JFK. Those are the common ones, but what about HKG, MAF, BNA. Any of those ring a bell for you?

While I spend a lot of time in airports, I have never seen them as the destination. They were a connecting point that allowed me to get to the city, conference, or person I was meeting.

I wish the same could be said of my view towards church.

Church was a destination. Church was a finish line. Church was the place where I went to be surrounded by other Christians, spend time together, then go back to my regular life.

Sunday morning and Wednesday night was the end game. It was my destination. Instead of being a recharging point for the rest of my week, it was the culmination of a week spent doing other things.

Church was not the avenue where I became equipped with knowledge and understanding to live out my faith during the week, but rather it was the place where I gathered with others to talk about how we were living different than everyone else around us. The problem was this was not true. Our lives looked the same as everyone else.

Then something changed.

That "something" was understanding what it really meant to "be the church" not simply "go to church". One is a physical destination. The other is a lifestyle.

Church, much like an airport, is a connecting point. People connect around a common belief system. Being part of a church provides a community of likeminded people that provide encouragement. As part of this group, ideas and plans are laid out to help members live out the message of hope found in a relationship with Christ. This requires work to be done to adjust your lifestyle to reflect the desired outcomes. But the funny thing about work is it won't get done if all you do is plan and discuss. Once a plan is in place, actions must happen.

The church building is the locker room, but the playing field starts in the parking lot and extends indefinitely. Don't worry. There will be a time to recharge. That is why we come together on a regular basis. We need motivation. We need encouragement. We need a community of believers around us to provide support when life happens. Christ knew what we was doing when he set up the church.

The church building is the gathering spot, not the destination.

Much like a church provides a common meeting point, an airport serves as a common gateway for like-minded people. While they may not have the same profession or religious belief, they all share a common goal of being transported to a different destination to achieve a particular purpose. That could be a business trip, visiting family, or a relaxing vacation. Regardless of the reason, all passengers need to assemble at the airport to gain access to the tools need to fulfill the journey. The church serves the same purpose. It provides the resources to equip us to fulfill our mission in life. That mission is found in Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV84). It reads:

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Christ called us to do more than simply gather. He called us to go.

An airport is a gateway to additional possibilities. It provides options that never existed. In the same way, the church is the bride of Christ and THE gateway to a life full of meaning and purpose. The new possibilities that exist through a relationship with Christ are priceless.

Bryan Clifton

Oklahoma City, OK