Thinking Out Loud

November 16, 2012

Terminology: Liquid Church

Filed under: Church — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:30 am

This blog began its life as a newsletter that was emailed to a few hundred people. While combing through the archives last night, I found this piece from Spring, 2007.

When Michael Frost was in our hometown this winter, he introduced many people to the concept of “solid church” versus “liquid church” for the first time. I think the term actually originates with author Pete Ward. Because we use it so often internally in conversation, we thought we’d fill it in the rest of you.

“Solid” churches are visible. They have a brick and mortar building. They usually have paid clergy. They have been around for years and will continue to be around.

“Liquid” churches are usually invisible. They have no buildings. There are usually not paid staff. They, like liquid poured out on rocks, fill in the cracks where the solid churches can’t reach people groups that are distinct due to ethnicity, history, criminal records, socioeconomic status, etc. But liquid churches can also reach special interest groups, people bound by a hobby or sports-interest or just the fact they live in a certain neighborhood. Liquid churches can reach the poor, but also the wealthy.

Liquid churches aren’t so much about church “services” but about “being the church” for people who wouldn’t otherwise attend a solid church. They often begin casually, but eventually move towards what some would term “intentional spiritual formation.”

Not everybody likes this new development that’s taking place. Some would prefer to see nothing but solid churches in our future. But we need different kinds of outreach to connect with different kinds of people and our existing ways of “doing” church has been weighed and measured and it’s not as effective as we think it is. One person said, “Solid churches aren’t working, but we keep trying to fix them, or we build more of them.”

Look around you. There’s individuals and families and neighbors and co-workers and fellow-students nearby who are waiting for you to be the church for them. Not for you to drag them to your house of worship. To “be” the church.



  1. Shouldn’t a Church be both? The ‘solid Church’ provides the foundation that feeds, equips and encourages the ‘liquid Church’ which it houses, and the ‘liquid Church’ is empowered to flow out into the community, into the streets and the byways, into the offices and workplaces, into the schools and clubs . . . ‘being’ the life of Christ to all encountered.

    Yes, I know. We don’t see too many of these Churches, but shouldn’t they be the ‘norm’?

    Comment by meetingintheclouds — November 18, 2012 @ 4:15 pm

    • Actually, you’re touching on something very vital, and that is that even if a ‘liquid church’ is uniquely created for a particular narrow focus, it should have a ‘solid church’ that is resourcing it. But what you say is correct also, ‘solid’ churches should be ‘filling in the cracks’ in the outside community where needs are not being met.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — November 18, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

  2. Ideally the church building would be solid and the people liquid. Whether you have a building or not, the people of God are the church and our mission should be the same. We don’t live in an ideal world, and some people will always be stuck with a “come to our church mentality.” God inhabits the praise of his saints, but inviting people to church will always be confused with spreading the Gospel. Still, there are those that in very solid buildings that get it.

    Comment by Clark — November 19, 2012 @ 8:06 am

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