What is church?
As I felt God calling me to start a church, I was faced with this question. In my mind, I couldn’t really hope to start church without understanding what church is. I grew up in church. I have served within the church since I was a kid. I have served as a children’s pastor and in other roles within the church for 10 years or more.
As a result, I have a lifetime of experiences, training, and other people’s opinions of what church is. If I was to truly understand what the church is I had to overcome all this history and seek what the Bible says about what church is. This is not to say that I doubted what I was taught, or my teachers. I am not discounting my past experiences. But, I felt the need to answer this question for myself, by seeking what the Bible said about it.
Is church people?
My whole life I was told that church is not a building, but the people. This goes well with Scripture as Paul often refers to the Church as a body. He then refers to the people within the church as parts of that body, with Jesus as it’s head. So, is church people?
Is church a building?
When most of us think of church we think of a building. If I said, “the church on the corner,” most people would think of a building, not a bunch of people standing on a street corner. So, is church a building? As I study scripture I don’t read anything that seems to suggest that church is a building. Certainly we read of people gathering in a building. There is a great deal of importance placed on the temple throughout the Old Testament. So, is church a building?
Is church an organization?
In the eyes of government a church is an organization, even a business. We often think that way too. When we think of First Baptist Church of wherever, we often think of an organization. There is some truth to this. There is leadership structure. There are bills to pay. There are financial reports. A church has many aspects of a organization. So, is church an organization? When we look at the church throughout the New Testament we see
Is church a gathering?
The word that is often translated as church in modern language is the greek word “ecclesia”. This word refers to a gathering of people. We see this example throughout both the Old and New Testament. We see this in modern church as well. When we talk of “going to church” it is the gathering, as much as the building, that we are talking about. This, along with the Biblical precedence and the original word used makes it clear that gathering is at least part of church.
So, what is church?
This is a question I had to work out as I worked towards starting church and as I sought God’s vision for this new church. I’d love to say that I have the full answer to that. But I don’t. Even if I did, I’m not sure that I would share them with you. You see, as we move forward as a church I think that each of us needs to do our own exploration about the question, “What is church?”
In the coming weeks I will be sharing the vision I believe God has given me for this church. This is why I’m asking this question. As I share the vision for Journey Church, it is important that we each explore the question of what church really is.
Please take time to consider for yourself exactly what church is.