It is certainly exciting to be able to hold our first Sunday morning worship service here in this building! We have been working towards this day for quite some time now and God has done some amazing things to get us to this point, and I know God will continue to amaze us with what He does through this church in the future.
And of course, when I say that “God will continue to do amazing things through this church” – I’m not actually talking about this building. You see, as wonderful as it is, this building is not actually the church.
And I know that might seem a bit confusing… the english language doesn’t really convey the idea of church very well.
I mean, really, when you think about it, we use the word ‘church’ in all kinds of different ways. For example, we might say.,..
- “Let’s go out for lunch after church.”
- “We need to fix the church roof.”
- “We want to reach the unchurched families in our community.”
- “Kids, please change out of your church clothes before you go play.”
And you can see why this can be confusing! Judging by those four statements, the church is an event, its a building, its a social status, and its a type of clothing.
I don’t think any of those convey the true definition of what the church really is. If you look at how the Bible talks about the church – it sounds like something very different. Let me show you a few examples:
- “But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.” Acts 12:5
- “Finally, the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem.” Acts 15:2
- “After you have read this letter, pass it on to the church at Laodicea so they can read it, too.” Colossians 4:16
- “Upon arriving in Antioch, they called the church together and reported everything God had done through them.” Acts 14:27
In these verses, church doesn’t sound like an event, a building, a social status, or a type of clothing. Look at the action verbs there – Praying, deciding, reading, meeting together – those all sound like things that people do. Building don’t pray and events don’t read. People do these things.
Now of course, if we were Greek speaking Christians back when these verses were originally written, this wouldn’t even be an issue for us. We would understand that the english word ‘church’ used in these verses, or the word ‘ekklesia’ in greek, meant a gathering of people – or an assembly. It had the idea of people being called together for a public meeting. In the Greek language, that’s what an ‘ekkesia’ was – it wasn’t even anything to do with religion, it was just people called together for a public assembly.
So it seems from the language of the Bible that the church is simply people.
If you’re my age or older, you might know the little poem – Here is the church, here is the steeple. Open the doors and here are the people.
It’s a nice little poem, but I’m afraid it’s just not very accurate! The people are the church. The church is not a building. No steeple is required. The church is people.
And of course, the church isn’t just any people. The church isn’t simply anyone who shows up Sunday morning. The church is made up of specific people. So who are these specific people? Are you one of them? Let’s find out.