What is Church?

Posted: November 8, 2012 by Dillon in Theology
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What is church?  When I say “church,” what is it that comes to your mind?  Probably some images of bored people sitting in pews, standing up and down, and listening to an old guy speak for a couple of minutes.  Maybe there will be some singing.  Maybe there will be some reading in a language none of us know.  Is that really church, though?

Growing up, I actually enjoyed the idea of going to church.  Mostly because I liked to sing and my church had more songs than maybe other churches.  And the children’s church…because we didn’t do anything except play games.  Looking back, I can’t help but think it wasn’t what an authentic church experience should be.  But isn’t that exactly what everyone says church is?  Isn’t that what church in America is?  I’m not so sure.

My current church is usually scoffed at by those who are unfamiliar with it.  We don’t have a building.  Instead, we meet at a local middle school.  Our communion is grape juice because the school won’t allow wine.  We tackle tough issues like suicide and Biblical living.  Sometimes we have service outside just because.  And the pastor routinely makes the congregation uncomfortable.  Not because he’s saying something wrong, but because he’s saying something truthful.  Is this what a real church is like?  CARM.org, the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, helped me define what a church is.

“The church is generally seen in two ways: the visible and invisible.  The visible church is comprised of all those who attend services, who claim to be Christians, etc.  The invisible church is comprised only of those who are actually born again…Nevertheless, the church is the body of true believers who have trusted in the redemptive work of Christ, who is God in flesh, who died and physically rose from the dead.  Therefore, those who claim to be Christians, those who have trusted in Christ by faith alone, are members of the true church.  These people attend different local bodies across a multitude of denominations around the world.”


There’s a lot being said there.  But I think the essence is pretty right on.  Church, real church, isn’t a building. It’s not a bunch of people sitting in pews.  Church is the body of believers.  Acts 2:42 gives a pretty clear description as well.  “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostle’s teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” All of those acts are done in a church building, but they can be done anywhere.  In actuality, I think the church is anywhere believers are together.  That’s what I believe, what about you?

Quotation taken from the CARM article, What is the purpose of the Church?

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