Can you go to church in a Chevy?
There is a delightful song by Jordan Davis called “Church in a Chevy.”
Davis describes in this song a wonderful moment many of us have likely felt.
It is a spiritual moment where something inside us clicks or dawns. We feel peace. Our perspective shifts.
The song describes the moment like this:
I went to church in a Chevy on a two-lane on a side of the road Sun coming up cutting through the live oaks Wind through the windows like a whisper on a breeze Out there in the quiet heard Him talking to me Amazing grace came flooding through the windshield Felt some broken parts of me start to heal My lost getting found, no one else around Middle of nowhere dirt I went to church in a Chevy
And so, after such a significant moment, he concludes, “I went to church in a Chevy.”
Did he “go to church” in a chevy?
In some sense he certainly did. Church participation has this vertical, just God-and-me element. As we worship God from our hearts, as we pour out our souls in prayer, as God addresses us personally, by His Spirit, through His word, we experience church, we “go to church,” in this highly individualistic, vertical way. This dynamic of church can certainly happen “in a Chevy on a two-lane on a side of the road.”
I have often had these moments on a jog at my favorite park. Or on a hike. Sometimes even when I have just paused in the driveway on a crisp winter’s night and considered the stars at their brightest. Or at times, while paddle boarding.
God seems to whisper in these moments. Deep calls to deep in these moments.
When I consider John in the wilderness, Moses on the mountain, Paul on the road, Jonah under the tree, and Jesus in desolate places, I conclude these spiritual moments are real and substantial and even a requisite portion of a healthy spiritual diet.
However, as good and genuine as these moments may be, they cannot be properly called “going to church,” and they cannot replace going to church.
Church is an assembly (ekklesia). Church is a gathering of people. Functionally, this gathering is an exchange. It is not an inert pool. It is an exchange of gifts and gifting, burdens and needs (Acts 2:42-47). It is a place for mutual encouragement (Hebrews 10:24) and accountability (Galatians 6:1-2). It is a vibrant hub of ministry and love. All of this cannot be done, alone, in a Chevy.
Where it gets confusing is that aspects of this assembled experience can indeed be found alone. Furthermore, because we, as individuals, are parts of the whole (1 Peter 2:5), there is a sense in which we are still the church wherever we go.
But because “church” is an assembly, we should not confuse individual experience with going to church, and neither should we confuse our individual part to be the whole itself, just as we would not consider a souvenir rock from Greece, which is in a small way Greece, to be Greece.
So, can you go to church in a Chevy? Strictly speaking, no. Can you meet God in a Chevy, on a hike, on a walk on the beach? Absolutely.
And…AND… I think both experiences – times alone and times assembled – are essential and complementary.
So, I love this song. I hope you have such a moment. And I invite you to church.