The Church. How is it defined? Who makes up its members? Is "The Church" what we see every Sunday morning -- people scurrying off to their little fellowships for Bible Study, doughnuts, coffee and some hymns and preaching? Is the Church a place? Or a people? Or maybe, a pipedream?
Since my parting of ways with Free Will Baptists, this is a subject I've given a great deal of thought, study and prayerful consideration. Honestly, what I've seen in my almost two decades in ministry convinces me that most of what we observe today that calls itself "The Church," or "Christianity," simply isn't. So far removed from Scriptural moorings and foundations are most "local fellowships" and "denominations," that they don't qualify to be called "The Church."
Allow me to lay the groundwork for my next several posts by first explaining the origins of the word church. Our English word "church" comes from the Greek term ekklesia which is used 115 times in the New Testament, and is always translated "church" with one exception -- Acts 19:32-41, where it is translated "assembly." (Note: I am here referring to the KJV, simply because this is still the most common and recognized English version of Scripture. Ekklesia may be translated slightly differently in other versions).
The term ekklesia literally means, "Called out," or "assembly." In the same way, "The Church" is a "called out assembly." But, what does this mean? In what context does this "called out assembly" constitute a church? How simple -- or complex -- is the concept of "The Church?"
In my next several posts, I will labor to give this concept of "The Church" another look -- a "revisioning." Why? Because, the current paradigm of what constitutes "The Church," has failed, is failing and will fail. This is true because it is largely unbiblical in several crucial ways. Stick with me and see if you don't agree.
And if not, feel free to comment!