When you mention the word ”church” in everyday Finland – and probably elsewhere as well – people think of cathedrals and other church-buildings. Or, they might think of a Sunday worship service or some other program arranged by churches.
“Church” comes from the Greek word “ekklesia”. The word has nothing to do with a building or a temple but simply means “an assembly or gathering”. One example where the word ekklesia occurs in the New Testament is Acts 19:32 (“the assembly was confused”). Here, the scripture, as we can see, simply refers to a group of people (in this case non-Christians). Ekklesia is, in other words, not a religious word. It just means any group of people that has come together.
Year 300AD the word “church” started to be used to represent Christians. It is said that it comes from the Greek word “kyriakos”, which means “that which belongs to the Lord” or “the Lord’s” (fex in Rev. 1:10). During that same century Christendom became a state religion that had to start to meet in places that were “meant for” worship (“churches” and cathedrals) and the worship services got more controlled (no free meetings in homes anymore). They were always also performed by “accepted clergy”. This unfortunately quenched much of the spontaneous growth and life that had been taking place spontaneously in homes.
However, from the very beginning Christians simply met in homes for simple gatherings where they shared the Word of God, ate together (real food), prayed and worshipped. Acts 2:41-42. The quoted scripture also shows that baptism was the entry into the “body of believers”. 1 Cor. 12:13 says it even more clearly.
The DNA of the church is:
D – Divine input. When we meet, we always have the privilege to expect divine input: power and blessings from God, through one another.
N – Nurturing relationships. We are put in a body and should function together. We therefore need to nurture our relationships with one another.
A – Apostolic mission. The body of Christ has a common mission: To bring Jesus to a broken world. We do it together, as a body.
The church is Christ’s “body”, according to the Bible. 1 Cor. 12:27. Where the church is, Christ is (through the Holy Spirit working in our lives and expressing Himself through our lives). It means:
– Christ is NOT stronger present in a church-building than in a café.
– Christ speaks through us and wants to manifest through us.
Christ – not the pastor(s) – is the head of the church. The head sends signals to the whole body, not just to some “more important parts”. ALL of us are parts of the body, with various functions. 1 Cor. 12:15-17, 28-31.
The church is the bride of Christ. That talks about bridal love, doesn’t it? We should never get so involved in church business that we lose our “first love” (Rev. 2:4). We are first of all called to LOVE God, with all our hearts. From that love everything else flows. Matth. 22:37-38).