My sons’ elementary school is just a block from our house; it appears to inhale students every morning, hold its breath for several hours, and then cough them back out in the afternoon. On spring mornings, when the windows in my office on the third floor of our house are open, I can hear the bustling as kids chat and squeal with their friends. When I look out the window, I can see the minivans lined up in the carpool lane, waiting to be waved forward by students on safety patrol.

When the weather is nice, I often take a walk around the block at midday, to clear my mind or pray. When I pass the school, all is quiet outside the building; there’s not a sound or person in sight. And then, at 3:40 every afternoon, kids begin trickling out a few at a time. This builds to a crescendo, as the building spews out one large, chaotic rush of students with noise, laughter, excitement, and relief. Some kids rush to hug their parents or jump in their parents’ cars, while others sprint to throw the football on the playground. Similar scenes of inhaling and exhaling probably play out at most schools around the world.

I often think of church as a pulsating heart, which expands and constricts to push blood through the veins and arteries of the body. Or, better yet, a living, breathing entity that inhales her people, holds her breath, and then exhales them out, scattering them as missionaries disguised in various vocations, roles, and responsibilities throughout the world. Of the 40 miracles found in the book of Acts, all but one of them occurred outside the walls of a religious building.

This idea of a breathing church is quite theological, actually. The Hebrew word for spirit is ruach. (To say it properly you have to say the ...

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