What is a church?
Here is a short list of what many have come to believe a church to be.
1. It’s an Evangelistic device, designed to attract the lost.
2. An Optional program- a place for like minded people to gather once a week.
3. A church is a building in which Christians meet for worship.
4. A church is merely a building.
5. A church is a club for insiders and hypocrites.
6. A church isn’t a building, the church is the people inside the building.
To understand what the church is meant to be, we have to look at who started it…. Jesus.
“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”
The word for “Church” there in Matthew, comes from the Greek word ekklesia, which is defined as “an assembly” or “called-out ones.” Another Greek word used for being holy or set apart is hagiazo.
Why that word? Why “set apart?”
here’s the connection…
Haggai 2:12, Exod. 3:5, and more specifically, Exod. 29:37, 30:29.
These four verses have one Hebrew word in common… qadesh.
Qadesh means to be set apart… Jesus took an old Hebrew word for the holy utensils, SET APART, to be used in worship in the tabernacle, and transferred it to His believers in the new testament.
His church, as Christ puts it in Matthew 16:18, is made up of set-apart people.
Jesus holds the patent on the “church.”
Christians today don’t need to try and figure out how to “do church different.” We need to stop attempting to make church services non-offensive by using tactics such as, not using so much “Christian-ease,” and playing secular music during the welcoming/intro time for the sake of making non-believers comfortable.
You can’t teach the Bible to nonbelievers. They will reject it. And so what does the average church today do? In its effort to make unbelievers content with the church, it eliminates what the people of God need, in a time when the sewage out of the world is drowning the people of God, and they get no help from their shepherds.
Adrian Rogers once said, in regards to what we do for entertainment,
“Americans have not only reached the bottom of the garbage pail, but we have eaten right on through the bottom.”
We need true churches today with strong Shepherds at the helm, who will boldly preach the word.
Jesus was the ultimate church body builder. If He wanted to have a megachurch/ packed out stadium every day of the week, He could have… But He didn’t. He was the greatest teacher that ever lived-
“never a man spoke like this man,” they said of Him. He wasn’t preoccupied with filling a building with as many so-called-believers as possible. In fact, He warned against dangers regarding the church.
The church today shares one of the same dangers of the early church.
There was a danger to growth in the early church….
the big threat to the early church, surprisingly, wasn’t persecution.
i.e. They arrested them and the church grew.
The biggest threat to the church was that there were so many signs and wonders, and miracles attracting people that unbelievers might come to church for the wrong reasons.
That was the deadly danger. There were a lot of sick, disabled, and dying people. Miracles were going on in the church. Signs and wonders were going on in there. This is the Church of God and the fear in the church was that unbelievers would come in and the devil would sow tares. The church was in danger of being leavened by the world. So the wonder of it all had to be mitigated with fear. In fact, the fear had to be so powerful and so great that it would stop non-Christians outside the door.
God Himself provides the horror:
“But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it.”
As the story goes, Ananias’ wife comes in 3 hours later, not knowing what had happened, she lies as well and also breathed her last.
There you have it… The goal was accomplished-verse 13-
“None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem.”
What about new members? What about visitors? What about church growth? People won’t want to show up if they fear what God is doing there…. Right?
“And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.”
The true church isn’t a building stuffed to the brim with mostly similac consuming, toothless Christians.
The church is bible believing people that make up the body.
However, if we as a body fail to live Christ-like love to everyone, including those outside, we won’t have to worry about our light shows and music not being cool enough to keep visitors coming back. Our attitudes and lack of smiles will fend off even the Elect of God, let alone the unbelieving tare.
Hospital or hotel? If anything, I would say the buildings that the “church” gathers in, are forward operating bases where mending, healing, and training takes place.
If all of the above is not occurring, its not a church-its a non-church.
Next time: Things churches do to push away visitors and how we can better step up as a body.