Many articles are being written in our day which are highly critical of the modern Church. Often the criticism is well-founded, especially in our Western culture. Truly, we seem to have drifted off-course, so that many church gatherings look more like entertainment clubs or feel-good social gatherings than the Church we see in the New Testament.
There’s another side to this, though. Some critics are proposing an opposite extreme — a so-called New Testament Church which is narrowed in scope to their own particular vision or preferences.
The two extremes spark a question. What is the local church really supposed to look like? It’s not a question with easy answers. In this series, we will look at some of the main components of church life and purpose, as we see them in the Bible.
Let’s start with a core job description:
The Church is the expression of Jesus Christ upon the earth.
That’s pretty simple, isn’t it? — even overly simple. However, in the end, it all comes back to this. Romans 8:29 tells us that God predestinated us (both individually and corporately) to be “conformed to the image of His Son.” Whenever the Church deviates from being the same as Jesus Himself would be on earth, we have missed the mark. Likewise, when we accomplish looking like Him, we’ve done what we were intended to do.
In the New Testament, the word translated “church” is ekklesia (ecclesia in Latin). Literally, the word means “the called-out ones,” but the common understanding was that it was an “assembly” or “congregation.” (See end notes.) So, a reasonable, combined definition would be, “a called-out assembly.”
Truly that is what the Church is, on both the local and world-wide level: we are called out of the world system, set apart unto Jesus, and we are an assembly of believers. By definition, no one of us can be the church all by himself. We need each other. “Ekklesia” cannot be separated from the concept of community.
This is why Hebrews 10:24, 25 (NKJV) says, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting [encouraging] one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Sunday morning services are one expression of how the local church can gather together, but by no means are they the complete picture, as we shall see as this series progresses. There are many facets of being the Church. If we tried to emphasize all of them in a single setting or time frame, we’d probably miss out on a lot.
In our next post, we will talk about the Church as family, which I believe is the starting point for restoring it back to what it is meant to be. If we get the family part right, our churches will become healthier, happier places, and everything else will flow quite naturally out of that.
1. Ecclesia (Church). Simple English Wikipedia. https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecclesia_(Church). Accessed 5-18-19.
2. Jackson, Wayne. “What Is the Meaning of Ekklesia?” Christian Courier. https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1500-what-is-the-meaning-of-ekklesia. Accessed 5-18-19.
3. Strong, James and Thayer, Joseph. Concordance. My Sword Bible app. Accessed 5-20-19.
4. “What is the Definition of Ekklesia?” Got Questions. https://www.gotquestions.org/definition-ekklesia.html. Accessed 5-18-19.
Growing in the Prophetic,
Audio teaching by Lee Ann Rubsam
Before Whom We Stand, by Lee Ann Rubsam