A note for church planter, I read a post that got me thinking about the definition of Church, as it should be key for church planting, so I am doing my own rendition the other post, of what the word church means, my own tweak, lets start he did with how that Miriam-Webster defines Church:
1: a building for public and especially Christian worship
The number one usage Webster is listing is simply defining church according to how the word church is used by people, defined, by churches themselves. Just ask the typical Christian to define church and you will here things like, A building, A place you go to on Sunday, and institution you belong to, something you attend. And ask the people what part do they have in church and they will tell you, attend. And sadly the leader put more importance on, money, time, planing, care and into the buildings than the do the people, really giving even more credence to the fact the definition is right, the church is a building.
But, when Jesus used the term “church” He had a very different meaning in mind. The word in the Greek text is ???????? (ekklesia) a word that is defined as “those called out” or “a called out assembly of people”, this is the original definition of the word used in the Greek text, quite different from Websters. But even more different is Jesus’ usage of the word though implied something much more, He described “church” as those people walking in allegiance to him, living a certain way, people who were following Him, living with a Kingdom purpose. A people that would ultimately be known by their love for one another, as His followers called out for a purpose, His purpose. Not as a building, nor was it in His definition of church that it is something that you simply only attended, especially not a country club you come to be entertained at.
Although Jesus did not really say much about how it was to be organized or how to do meetings. But rather His focus was on a lifestyle of loving others and obeying Him: saying things like “Go into all the world…” ” Heal others…. “Let your light shine…” “Wash the feet of others…. “Do what you see the Father doing…” “Love one another…” “Make disciples….”My house shall be a house of prayer… “Preach the Gospel… Church, as defined by Jesus, was simply His followers living life for and with Him. “For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.” John 13:15 The things that obvesly were core to what church was about, what matted most to Him.
I believe this is why the Apostle Paul chose not to use the word “synagogue” a word he was most familiar with, and had used his whole life. Synagogue was the word used by Jews at the time to define where they gathered for study and worship outside of the Temple. But the word by definition referred to a building used for an assembling together. Synagogue (1) always was used to refer to the place, building where they gather together, not the people themselves or even what went on inside because the building was used for so many other things. So I can see very well why Paul used a different word, because church to Jesus, to the disciples and Paul was never to be a building or a place, it was a people so he used a new name for it, based on the what the real definition of church was according to Jesus. A called out people with a purpose, to follow the Life of Jesus on God’s mission.
But today only a minuscule number of churches embrace Jesus’ definition of Church, with the these things I list above as the core of what they are about, why they exist. This I do not get it, one can simply read the scriptures as to how both Jesus and the Apostle Paul define church, pick up a Greek dictionary and lookup the word ekklesia and read the definition, and find Church is not a building or an institute or even a set place or time. Because the place and time are fluid, it can be anyplace and any time two or more gather together, and it does not require a building or paid staff or set of programs to happen ether. We must read everything Jesus said and did, read the description of the first church gatherings and read what they where doing. Read all of Paul’s instructions to the church and body telling us what it is all about. And get our definition from Jesus, the scriptures Not Websters or even the American Christian church for that matter.
So how did we ended up with this thing we have and are trying to pass off as church? Why can’t church planters simply pick up the owners manual, the blueprint of what church is, that is the Bible and do, plant what it says church is.
1. Dictionary of Judaism in the Biblical Period, Macmillan
My post inspired by a post in the simplechurchjournal titled: Defining Church Websters has it wrong.