I have been reading various articles on the word church and its original meaning. Some articles have bashed the modern concept of church as a departure from the original Acts concept of church, while others have addressed some of the problems of the modern church ideology. I thought I would share my two cents and my perspective about the buzzword “ecclesia” or “community”. You may think I am jumping on the “ecclesia” bandwagon, but I am just sharing my thoughts and my heart.
The word church from the original Greek is “ecclesia”. This Greek word appears in the New Testament approximately 115 times. “Ecclesia” is correctly defined as: “The called-out (ones)”. Originally the word was used to indicate a community of select (called) people.
Lets look at Matthew 16:18. Be aware that this is a highly debated scripture as to whether Christ was referring to Peter having a special office or if Christ referring to His disciples.
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
In Ephesians 2:20-21 we see that Christ is the cornerstone and the disciples are the foundation.
20 Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone. 21 In whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
In Revelations John says that the Apostles (12) are the foundation.
And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the lamb.
We see that these scriptures are not referring to a building, rather Jesus in Matthew 16:18 was establishing a community of believers who were to be dedicated to His mission.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Understanding that the word “church” does not refer to a building, does not lead me to less church attendance. Instead it helps me understand that church is not simply a building you go to, it is something you live. This has also helped me expand my view of what church was meant to be.
For years our emphasis has been on church attendance, and needing to seek Christ at church, shout it out, tear up the rug, run the isles, and getting our Sunday night “breakthrough”. I believe that this has created a culture where a church service is the only time we spend thinking about Christ and talking about Him.
Going to church is great, but using it to have a relationship with Christ is a bit like trying to have a relationship with your spouse in a crowded room with chaperons. A relationship with Christ needs time spent alone with our love and engage Him in our daily lives. I am not against going to church, nor am I advocating less church attendance, but if a church service is our only means to have a relationship with Jesus, we are in trouble. Please do not think I am not trying to take away from church, but instead I want to add to it and expand our idea of what church is.
I want to share with you something my wife and I do with our family. Please do not take this as pride, showing off or that our way is the right way. I just want to testify a bit (queue the organ).
My wife and I realized that we had become very busy with the business of church and spent very little time, if any, in family devotion: reading the Bible, praying or just talking about Jesus. We decided that had to change. It took sometime to work living as the church into our lives, and honestly its something we are still working on it.
Throughout the week my wife teaches our two-year-old son his colors, shapes, numbers, and ABC’s. Each daily lesson starts with a prayer and a bible story from his Children’s Bible. Once a week we devote time to read the Bible together as a family, talk about Jesus, discuss something we have been reading in our own personal devotion or a sermon we heard online. We have been trying to make it a habit to invite friends over for dinner to fellowship and to talk about Jesus as well. The result has been that we found that we had more peace in our home and our lives. Something else happened; we found that we talk about Jesus throughout the week; Christians talking about Jesus outside of church, imagine that. Please don’t get the impression we are little angels and all we do is read our Bibles; we have our game and movie nights too.
I pray this article blesses your hearts and encourages your family. Let us go out and be the church, rather than just going to church.