Rowan Williams on what is church

Spoken at the Mission-Shaped Conference in 2004, the Archbishop defines what church is (and what it isn’t).

Church is the event of Jesus’ presence with its characteristic event of gathering people around him… The church is what happens when Jesus is there, there received and recognised.

I like that he doesn’t give a list of things that have to be present to be church – e.g. readings, prayers etc. It is about Jesus’ presence with his people.

Are there structures and patterns which let that basic event of encounter happen again and again? Because, if not, the church has become something very different from where it started; it has become a community which says once there was an encounter with Jesus and we like to remember that… We have to ask much more radically, how do we structure a society in which it goes on being possible, even likely, that people will meet Jesus and, in meeting Jesus, will want more people to meet Jesus?

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