We Are The Church Together

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Can a kid’s song help us better understand the church and re-imagine our relationship with God?

I love to sing. I have a three-year-old daughter, and sing her little songs all the time – either making them up as I go or in fishing them out of the recesses of my memory. Recently, without thinking much about it, I started singing a song I’d learned in Sunday School when I was a kid. I mostly remembered it because of its catchy refrain, but when I looked up the verses I realised that this little tune carries a vision of the church that is profound, true, and quite different from what we usually imagine (though the third verse is a bit ambiguous).

If the pendulum between individualism and collectivism has very much swung to the individualist side in our churches, this tendency is also reflected in our practises, including in our choices of songs. A huge proportion of the songs we sing speak of our relationship with God in mainly individual terms – and often in a way that reinforces the ever-present penchant in our cultural imaginary.

If we want to change the way we understand our faith, we should regularly remind ourselves of the vision we want to adopt, and songs are a great tool to do this. So I thought I’d share this song for kids – and for adults too!

You can also find the sheet music here, to learn the melody. Unfortunately I couldn’t find a good recording on YouTube.

We Are The Church

Richard Avery & Donald Marsh, 1972

Refrain :
I am the church! You are the church!
We are the church together!
All who follow Jesus,
all around the world!
Yes, we’re the church together!

1) The church is not a building;
the church is not a steeple;
the church is not a resting place;
the church is a people.


2) We’re many kinds of people,
with many kinds of faces,
all colours and all ages, too
from all times and places.


3) Sometimes the church is marching;
sometimes it’s bravely burning,
sometimes it’s riding, sometimes hiding;
always it’s learning.


4) And when the people gather,
there’s singing and there’s praying;
there’s laughing and there’s crying sometimes,
all of it saying:


5) At Pentecost some people
received the Holy Spirit
and told the Good News through the world
to all who would hear it.


Next post : The Last Piece of the Puzzle, Or, Why Evangelism Doesn't Work Anymore

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