The Church is defined by different people in different ways.
Sometimes I say "a church" when I mean a church building, in the same way I say "a light" when I really mean a light-bulb.
The idea of Church is, in its widest form, indicative of the full communion of believers in the Christian faith. What this means in practice is variable.
For example, the Orthodox denomination teaches that the Church is those within the structure of the Eastern Orthodox Church, while the original line of the Roman Catholic Church was similar up until Vatican II. Similarly, many Evangelicals believe that the church comprises of Evangelicals alone, with more extreme Evangelicals, believing, along with historic Fundamentalists, that only their branch of Evangelicalism is actually the Church.
Recent developments in Catholic and Orthodox theology have led to problems. For example, an Orthodox of my acquaintance accepts Protestants as Christians, but cannot accept them as part of the Church. The result of this is that 'Church' can no longer always be used to refer to both the structure of a particular group and the communion of all Christian believers.
|- Anonymous post|
Strictly speaking the Church is not bricks and mortar. It's a community of people - the people of God. Whilst much modern Christianity is focussed upon the individual relationship with God, this is only half the story. The Bible reveals a God who works through communities and makes a covenant with his people. Jesus gathered a new community around himself and instituted a new covenant.
The followers of Jesus (the Church) are commonly known as Christians.
The book of Ephesians is the apostle Paul's treatise on church theology and practise. Chapters 1 to 3 give a summary of Paul's understanding of a body of people chosen by God from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) for the express purpose of making known His wisdom to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places (Ephesians 3:10). In summary “to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever” (Ephesians 3:21).
For us it is an amazing concept to understand that God has planned to reveal His incredible wisdom and glory through us, His people! Chapters 4 to 6 of Ephesians expand on the theme of: 'if this is what we are, then let's start acting like people of God'!
|- Anonymous post|
The following list was compiled by a group of of Bible College students when considering what the word "church" sometimes means to society in general:
- A building
- A place for major life events - marriages, funerals
- An organization with hierarchies and ceremonies
- An out-dated institution that does good, runs sporting competitions, aged care and schools
- A guardian of tradition or culture but one that is intolerant
- An organization that teaches about Jesus and the Bible
These students, when asked what "church" might mean to Christians came up with this alternative list:
- Community and family
- Meets needs and brings spiritual growth
- Singing, sermons, communion, prayer and so on
- Mission and evangelism
|Bible College of South Australia Theology Class, July 2008|
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