What is a church? This is a question that is both simple and complicated. It is also a question that is extremely important. Before answering the question, what is a church one must first understand the difference between a church and the Church? Every Christian is a part of the Church. The Church is the hands and feet of Christ. The Church is Christ representatives (Ambassadors), therefore; everyone who has accepted Christ is a part of the Church.
Now that we have an understanding of the what the Church is, we can move on to answering the question, what is a church. A major problem we have when trying to defining what a church is comes from how we use the word church in our language. We call the building where we meet for worship the church. For many years the buildings where people met for worship was called the meeting house, and the people of the church called the congregation or the assembly. Today the term church is used much more broadly. So, what is a church? Is a church a building? Is a church the people in the building? Maybe a church is defined by how the people in the building behave, how they relate to each other and the outside world. Through observation, I have identified 5 common archetypes that are found in a church. Perhaps these archetypes are different versions of a church.
The Social Club
In the Social Club, people come to church because it is socially and culturally accepted. In some cases, it may even be expected. People don’t necessarily have a strong connection to Christ. They come to church because that is just what you do. People in the social club enjoy being at church and they like to be around each other. The Social club makes them feel good. The social club church can feel could and uninviting to visitors. This is usually not intentional, but it happens because the people in the social club church have formed social groups within the church that they are comfortable with and they enjoy being around. They focus so much on their social groups that visitors can end up being ignored. The social club is very inwardly focused. In terms of evangelism and discipleship, the social club likes to focus on doing things that will bring people through the doors so that teaching can take place within the walls of the church. One of the good things about the social club church is that the people inside the club truly do feel loved, the problem is that those outside the club feel unwelcomed.
Church Inc. or the corporate church in a model of efficiency and effectiveness. They have greeters with name tags, a hospitality area, and many exciting programs for people of all ages and all levels of Christian maturity. The corporate church has well educated professional staff. The staff well is supported but is expected to do the work of the evangelism and discipleship. The corporate church often has multiple services, so everyone can get what they want. This church tends to be outwardly focused. The good thing about the corporate church is it often has efficient and effective programming, however; the corporate church often overly dependent on.
I stated that the corporate church is outwardly focused. Let talk about that for a moment. A misconception that some people after all the Great Commission tells us to go and make disciples, however; if the church is only outwardly focused that is wrong. The inwardly focused church is totally focused on the congregation. The church that is inwardly focused ask questions like how can we take care of ourselves? What do the people within our body need? They do not spend a lot of time focusing on issues outside the local congregation. The outwardly focused church asks questions like what are the needs of the community? How can we help? The issue that the outwardly focused church can run into is that sometimes they do not recognize needs within their own church. For the church to do its best at focusing outwardly it has to be healthy. To be healthy, the church must focus inward to identify and correct problems. The church must be both inwardly and outwardly focused.
The bygone day’s church
Some churches are stuck in the past. Every conversation seems to be about the past. These types of churches will have members that constantly talk about how good things used to be. This congregation is a congregation that fears change, rather than try something new they would rather go back to something that worked in the past. A positive of this church is that they respect the scared, and they respect tradition. This type of church tends to have a congregation that is older with few if any young families.
Look to the future church
While some churches are stuck in the past. Some churches ignore the past altogether. These churches tend to be young and energetic. They are enthusiastic and visionary, they believe that it is important to look beyond where the church has been, or where it is, and look to where the church will be in the future. This church tends to be so future focused that they dismiss the past and traditions. To dismiss the past is to not have a foundation. Society and the church move forward and build on a foundation that has been made for us by the people who came before us. If a church dismisses the past and all the church traditions, then one doesn’t have a firm foundation to stand on.
Everything to Everyone
No person can be everything to everyone and nor can any church be everything to everyone. The church that tries to be everything to everyone ends up being nothing to anyone.
These are different types of churches, but they fall short of answering the question what is a church? A church will have different aspects of the types of churches discussed above. The church should have a social club aspect to it. People should want to come to church and fellowship. They should enjoy being around their church family, however: the church needs to make sure that the environment is welcoming for everyone that comes through the door, not just those who are in the club. The church should have a corporate aspect. Staff is important. Programming is important, but the church needs to make sure that everyone gets an opportunity use their gifts, not just the staff, and the focus needs to be on people not just on programs. It is important that church not get stuck in the past, it needs to be forward thinking, however it is also important that the church maintain respect for tradition and thins that are sacred. It is extremely important that a church be the institution that God called it to be and not try to be everything to everybody,
I have discussed many things about the church, but all the things that I have discussed thus far are only aspects of a church. We still have not fully answered the question what is a church. Let’s answer that question now.
What is a church?
A church is a group of people a congregation that comes together to fellowship, study the Word of God and worship him. A church (congregation) is an organ within the body of Christ. Just as each organ in the body is different each church has a different function. One church may have a great feeding program, while another church has a great after-school program. Yet another church may be good at training and sending missionaries. Although churches have different functions in the body, every church has the same missionwho strive to help others, people who reach out to the lost. A church consists of imperfect people who through the power of God try to be better. Because churches are organs in the body of Christ, no church can function on its own. Churches are to work together, they must work together for the Body to function. What is a church? A church in one of many churches. Theses churches together make up the Church (the body of Christ).
If you are a Christian and you do not have a church home, I encourage you to find one. Our faith is not one that should be lived out in isolation. We need the fellowship of our sisters and brothers in Christ. We need the strength of our fellow Christians. We need to work together to fulfill the great commission. The church is your Christian family. If you don’t have one, find one. Find your family.
This weeks sermon was entitled “What Church Are We
Text Colossians 1;15-20 and Romans 12:3-5