Disclaimer: About This Blog
THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
What Do You Mean By Church?
I often find conversations about church to be difficult for this reason.
What do you mean when you use the word church?
When you say "our church should do this"... what do you mean by 'church'?
When you say "invite them to church "... what do you mean by 'church'?
When you say "what church do you go to"... what do you mean by 'church'?
When you say "after church we are going to go to... " what do you mean by 'church'?
When you say "our church has this great youth program"... what do you mean by 'church'?
When you say "we are meeting at the church"... what do you mean by 'church'?
I have tried to study what the term church or ekklesia meant in the New Testament. When I talk about my role or my prayers for church, I find it useful to go back to what church was in Scritpure. I know meanings of words can change over time. Please read this post for more details: Church Etymology
It seems church or ekklesia in the New Testament referred simply to followers of Jesus, and also whenever they gathered together (2 or more). For example the phrase "the church in Jerusalem" could mean all the followers of Jesus in Jerusalem, or it could mean a gathering of some of the followers of Jesus in Jerusalem. We know there were too many followers of Jesus in Jerusalem to fit under one roof for their gatherings, but they were all part of the same church. I find it helpful to view church more like a family or tribe where some members may not see each other as frequently as others, but they all belong to the same family or tribe.
However I don't think the term church or ekklesia ever referred to a building.
I don't think the term church or ekklesia ever referred to a organization, corporate identity, institution or denomination.
I don't think the term church or ekklesia ever referred to a specific event. I don't think a gathering on Sunday morning with a certain order of service would be considered 'church' more than a gathering of Jesus followers at any other time or location.
When a discussion gets confusing because we are using this term 'church' in different ways I often try to find other ways to communicate without using the term church. For example: I feel called to serve and care for Christ's church (the people), but I honestly don't feel the same calling towards some other things that people call 'church'. I think that can be a source of confusion.
What does church mean to you? Do you have any advice for me how I can communicate better?