What is church?

Posted: October 2, 2006 in authenticity, church, ministry, prayer, service, unity

I suppose you get various answers from different people based upon their knowledge and understanding of ecclesiology. For some, the church is simply a building – they say things like “That church has unusual architecture.” They are not able to separate the building from what the church is. Others view church as the assembly or public gathering. They view church as people coming together for an order of worship that includes the leading of a public prayer, singing songs, partaking of communion, public reading of scripture, and a sermon. While I agree that part of what it is to be a church involves coming together for an organized assembly involving prayer, communion, teaching, (where do the announcements come in?), and Scripture reading – I feel there is so much more to being the body of Christ.
Yesterday, Raleigh Community Church experienced what it is like to be a church. We had our corporate assembly where a praise team led the congregation in singing, public prayers were spoken, Scripture was read, a sermon was preached, and communion was served. There were even a couple of baptisms! Praise God! But what followed was church. We left the building and most everyone who attended the assembly gathered at the house of one of the members. We had a meal together. It was a great time of fellowship. We then gathered in the living room for spontaneous worship. It was amazing. It was a time of sharing our hearts through song, prayer, and testimony. If someone needed prayer, they would take the chair in the middle and we would all gather around and place our hands on them and pray and cry and rejoice with them. Tears of pain were running down the faces of the church. Shouts of victory were proclaimed. Peace was received. I arrived for worship service at 11:00 AM, by the time I got home it was nearly 6:00 PM. We were Christ’s church functioning as Christ’s church. We were white, black; young, old; highly educated, and not so highly educated united in the name of Jesus. We were the church – the body of Christ. I learned an important lesson about church that went far deeper than a sermon ever could. I learned about community in a way that reading a book could never provide. I am a part of Christ’s church.
The church is not an hour on Sunday, it is Christ’s community of people living in unity. A church is not what happens in a building with a sign out front, the church is also showing each other love and support in a living room. The church is not just what happens within the walls of a building, it is God’s people being the hands and feet of Jesus in the world around us.
Have you had an experience that taught you about what church is supposed to be?

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