It’s incredible how many different ideas people have about the church.
For some, the word church points to a building. They speak of the brick church on the corner. Others see the church as an institution. For them, the church is about rules and structure.
Today, you may even hear someone say that the church is unnecessary.
It causes me to ask myself: What is the church? What is the purpose of the church? Why is the church necessary for believers? And, how should the church affect the world?
It will take more than one article to address these issues, so I hope you’ll plan on reading this column over the next few months.
First, although a church may have a building and be part of a larger institution of faith, a church by definition is an assembly of God’s people. At the risk of getting too complicated, when the translators use the word church in the New Testament, they are usually translating the Greek word ekklesia.
The concept behind this Greek word is the idea of an assembly of people who have been called out. This definition partly answers our first question. The church is the ekklesia, the assembled people of God called out from the world.
Along with this Greek meaning, the word church also carries the idea that those called to assemble belong to the Lord. When we add this to our concept of the church, we get a fuller picture. The church consists of those who belong to the Lord. They are called out from the world and gathered together.
So, what does this mean for you today? If you consider yourself a Christian, you should be gathering with other people who also call themselves Christians.
Where can you do this? In the Church. The writer of Hebrews says as much when he writes, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25.
Meeting together isn’t meant to be drudgery. When you understand what the church represents, that should be clear. The entire concept of the church sets the assembly of God’s people apart from other community organizations and social gatherings. It’s tilling the soil for Christian growth.
Do you have a place you call your home church? Are you meeting there with other believers regularly? When the Lord called you out of the world, He called you to be a part of the ekklesia, the assembled people of God.
He did this because you now belong to Him. He also has a purpose for calling you into the church.
As you can imagine, that purpose includes worship. However, there is more to the purpose of the church than worship – we’ll explore the deeper purpose of the church next month. For now, if you don’t have a church home, please consider finding one. The church needs you, and as you’ll find out, as a part of the people of God, you need the church too.