From 2D church to 3D community.


In primary school, we learned to convert 2D shapes (circles, squares and triangles) into 3D objects (spheres, cubes and pyramids). A shape is flat when it only has height and width, but when you add depth, it becomes robust, substantial and three dimensional.

It struck me recently that church in rows is very two dimensional. The sermons and the singing create a space for me to interact with God, but there is no structured space for me to interact with his people, even though we’re sitting together in the same room. I’m literally missing out on the third dimension of church life – one-anothering. Sure, I can catch up over a cup of tea afterwards, or meet up on Wednesday night, but it’s not that difficult to set up opportunities for God’s people to pray for one another, teach, encourage, build-up and love one another in our Sunday services. It just requires a shift in our concept of “church”.

When Jesus was asked for the greatest commandment in the Law, he replied “Love the Lord your God … this is the first and greatest commandment”. He could have left it at that, but he didn’t. He followed it up by saying; “the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself'”. Jesus never invited us into a two-dimensional, flat relationship between us and God, he wanted us to dive into the messy, three-dimensional space of loving God and others, of becoming his people, showing the world what it means to live in true unity.

We’re so accustomed to flat, two dimensional church in rows that we haven’t realised we’re missing out on the vital third dimension of one-anothering. When we rethink how gather, how we lead and how we interact as God’s people, we will create a robust, rich 3D environment for spiritual growth as a community.

4 thoughts on “From 2D church to 3D community.

  1. Kathleen, another great article. May I recommend two things?
    1. Add and to your blogroll.
    2. Consider pulling the best of the best blog entries from your website and, if you feel comfortable, from the blogs of others (with their consent of course – perhaps a collaborative effort) and consolidating them into a book. Make sure the entries present the positive side of non-instutional church.

    • Thanks for your comment and encouragement, Dennis.

      I will put Wayne’s website on my blogroll, thanks for suggesting it, and will take a good look at the other one when I get a chance.

      Thanks for the suggestion re: a book. Have you seen “Simple Church: Unity within Diversity”? I contributed a chapter last year to this collaborative book from 23 bloggers who embrace simple church, presenting our viewpoints from a positive position, rather than just criticising institutional church. I hope to one day put a book together about “Church in a Circle” – hopefully this year, if I get the time (life is so very busy!).


      – Kathleen

  2. Yes, I purchased the book at the same time I purchased “Finding Church”. Both are good.

    However, there are so many phenomenal, individual blog posts scattered across many different blogs that are already written that need compiling into one centralized location. That is what I would like to see. It needs to present non-instutional fellowship in a positivistic, articulate manner, not in a way that defines itself in opposition to traditional modes of expression, which can be equally valid (as Wayne points out).

    My operational definition of “Church” is “whenever and wherever two or more people accept Jesus’ invitation to come together and have a relationship with the Father and Jesus and participate with them in their desire to reconcile us together with everyone else into one family”. This definition is Biblical and does not require an institution. It also stresses the fact that the church is not the church until people come together as Paul said, “when you come together as the church…” implying there is a way of coming together that is not the church.

    Anyway, there are a lot of great articles floating around that would make a great book. Many of your should be included.

    • That sounds like a healthy definition of church, Dennis. I think we’ll see a wide range of non-conventional expressions of church as more of God’s people (and church leaders) grapple with their concept of what “church” is and how we should come together.

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