When you mention the word, “church,” everyone has a thought that comes to mind. For many, it stirs up memories from childhood, or years gone by. It used to be that church was something that everyone was familiar with.
Today, however, gone is the era where each person clearly understands what “church” really is.
- Church is not a building.
- Church is not just an organization.
- Church is not a business.
- Church is not a club.
- Church is not something that used to be, but is now gone.
Some have said that the era of the church will come to an end. They say that, soon, there will no longer be a “church” to contend with.
Pastors and congregations will go to the wayside to make room for other, more relevant ideas.
Partly, they are right.
There will soon come a day when the church is gone; but it won’t be because the world, or politics, or some other system has erased it.
Church won’t be gone because it finally became irrelevant and died a slow death…no that will never be the case.
One day, Jesus will return for the church. In that moment, the church, as it is now known, will cease to exist. Those who are left will still have the opportunity to believe and make a choice to serve Jesus or not…but at the cost of their physical life.
So with all this being said, the question that many have today is simple, “what is the church?”
Instead of trying to answer what church is not let’s spend some time talking about what church is.
There are so many things I want to say, and a few I have to say as we start this post.
The church is not a building…it’s a gathering.
The church is people who gather. Period.
One thing will always be true…the church…until it is taken away…will always gather.
The Bible says that Jesus is actively building the church and the very gates of hell will not prevail against it. The church is the bride of Christ, but at the same time is also the BODY of Christ.
We are literally the hands and feet of Jesus in the world.
Even so…the gathering is a special moment that happens in places all over the world and has happened for over two thousand years.
We are called OUT of the world to gather together. It has been like this since the very inception of the church.
GATHERING is VITAL.
There is a reason that gathering is vital, and we’ll get to that in a moment; but first, listen to what the Bible says about gathering together.
Hebrews 10:19–25 NLTse
19 And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus.
20 By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place.
21 And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house,
Let me say, first of all that YOU, if you are a believer, YOU are the house of God.
You are the place where he dwells. You are the place where his presence resides.
In each individual believer, God makes his home. You are God’s house.
Essentially, pieces of God’s house are scattered all over the world. In every community, state, nation, and continent, the house of God is scattered.
Why? Because the house of God is people…believers.
But the Bible goes on to say…
22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.
The book of Hebrews is not written to unbelievers, but to believers. It is written first to Christians. That’s why we see the language of this book being directed towards US the way it is.
The Apostle Paul has taught several important ideas in this short passage already, but what he is about to say directly impacts us as the church.
24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.
Part of my job and yours as a believer in Jesus is to motivate the believers around us.
For someone to be around you means they had to gather with you.
25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially NOW that the day of his return is drawing near.
The Bible refers to us as a “family of believers.”
This family is supposed to gather.
We are a family and we come together.
In fact, scripture says to “not neglect our meeting together.”
To neglect means: To fail to care for. Not pay proper attention to or disregard. Failure to do something.
In a day when many…in fact, MOST…question the need for people to gather in buildings, meeting places, and areas like these…the Bible tells us that the gathering is still important.
The reason it is important is two-fold. First, it brings together the “house of God” which is actually the people of God.
The pieces of the “house” that scatter during the week, come together as a habitation of the corporate, powerful, presence of God.
Second, the reason gathering is important is the fact that we are family.
We are not just a gathering. We are a gathering of family. Many want to forget this or cast it aside.
Many who have bad experiences with family, don’t understand why this is important; but it is, nonetheless.
We are a church family.
Let me say it again…
WE ARE A CHURCH FAMILY.
So if you want to answer the question we started with, you can do it with this statement: Church is FAMILY.
It’s a place I call home.
It’s a place to belong.
It’s a place where people should love me.
It’s a place where my church family cares about me.
It’s not just a place where a pastor preaches and does the work…it’s a place where every person here becomes interdependent on each other and we all carry on the work of the family.
We pray for each other.
We fight for each other.
We talk with each other.
We worship with each other.
We care about each other.
We are HERE for each other.
Through good times, and bad, the church gathers as a family and we stick together. We don’t go off on our own thing. We are family.
Families fight…but the the best families stick together. That’s the kind of family that Jesus is building and that is why the gates of hell will never prevail against the church.
Ultimately, Jesus will have a church that is without spot and wrinkle. He will have a church that is family.
Now, I don’t know about you…but I LOVE my church family. I NEED YOU.
Truthfully, you cannot make it as a Christian on your own.
One of the biggest lies that satan is propagating right now is the idea that you can be a believer and NEVER gather with any other believers.
It’s not true.
A real believer will WANT to gather because it’s not just about receiving something, it’s also about giving something.
Families receive from each other, but they also give to one another.
Families give love, acceptance, hope, a sense of home, and strength.
The basic building block of society has always been the family, and the erosion of the family may possibly be the downfall of society.
In the same sense, the basic building block of Christianity is the GATHERING of the church FAMILY.
I’ll be very honest and blunt…
Those who try to steer you away from gathering with your church family are wolves and goats.
Now, there are times in every person’s life when something happens and you cannot gather at church. We all know that, and we understand it.
Jobs, vacations, family events, even sicknesses, can all keep us from gathering from time to time.
But when you remove yourself or someone influences you to remove yourself for long periods of time or for reasons that are purely selfish, you’ve allowed yourself to walk down a slippery slope.
The closer I get to the return of Jesus, the crazier the world seems to be, the more absurd and ridiculous the things around us become…the more I WANT TO GATHER WITH MY CHURCH FAMILY.
The church gathering is an encouraging place where I can find truth in a world in which truth is in short supply.
Until Jesus comes, there will ALWAYS be a church gathering, with pastors, teachers, evangelists, prophets, with the responsibility to equip God’s people to do God’s work.
Even in the most oppressed nations of the world, the church still secretly GATHERS.
At the threat of death, they GATHER.
Why? Because they are FAMILY.
Church is family.
It’s a place I can go and not face hard, difficult things in life alone. It’s a place where I have a many brothers and sisters in Christ.
My church family will pray with me and believe with me that God will hear and answer my prayer.
Church is not a place where I show up to just get counted and give my offering. God doesn’t need a bunch of nickels and noses.
What God wants…and what the world needs…and what you and I need…IS A CHURCH FAMILY.
We need to be connected to and involved with, and part of, and adopted into, a church family that loves us, cares for us deeply, and wants to see us go forward with Jesus.
You and I were created and designed to operate best when coupled together with other believers…and all the more as the end draws near.
We are like gears in a transmission. Together, we mesh and move this vehicle of the church forward. We carry the message of Jesus into a world that needs it…when we gather together as a church family.
Ephesians 4:11–16 NLTse
11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers.
12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.
13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.
15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.
16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
IF WE WON’T FIGHT FOR OUR CHURCH FAMILY…NO ONE ELSE WILL!
No matter how big we are or how small we are, the church should be like a family. I believe that God has asked us to function as a family.
One of the reasons that people should want to be a part of the church family is because they see in us something they desperately want.
One of the reasons that you should fight for your church, is simple. We fight for our church because our church is family!
Your church family should be one of the most influential, important, loving, caring, fun places in your life. You should treasure your church and the people in it because they are part of your extended family; and in respect to your spiritual life, they are close family.
Church families absolutely believe in adopting those who come to Christ. We make them part of our family.
We absolutely believe in helping those who are unsure about Jesus, become sure about Jesus.
The truth is:
We don’t want to lose anyone who is part of our church family.
- Are there going to be people who leave from time to time? YES…but let it be with our blessing.
- Are there going to be people who we adopt in as one of us? YES…and let us do it with joy.
- Are there going to be good times, difficult times, times of hard work, and times where God is doing amazing things that bring great joy? YES, and all of those parts go into the making of your CHURCH FAMILY!!
Matthew 18:19–20 NLTse
19 “I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.
20 For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”
So, if you ask what church is…the answer is simple.
Church is family.