When you hear the word, “church,” what do you think of? How do you picture it? We don’t “go to church.” We are the church. Why do we often associate the word “church” with a place and time…or a building? Even though it is symbolized as a building, that is not what the church, eklesia, is. In a study we did this week, we found that eklesia, the word Jesus uses when he talked about building His church, actually means “gathering.” But it is more than that. It is the body of Christ. It is a group of believers gathered together in unity, to worship God, to lift each other up, to pray together, to meet each other’s need, to live life together, to go out and share the love of Christ to others. One of the churches I was a part of had a simple mission statement: To love God and to love others, pursue Christ’s character, serve the world. To follow Christ and invite others to follow Him. That is what church is all about.
So what should it look like? What do you look for in a church?
These are my personal desires in a church. First, small groups (not necessarily in a particular order). Having a small group Bible study in a home each week is the most important to me. That is where you get to really know others, where you can dig deep into the scriptures, where you can grow together. Along with that, and most importantly is Biblical teaching. Does the church follow the Bible and teach the truth without sugar-coating or avoiding certain scriptural truths? Does it have sound Biblical teaching? What is most important to a church, God’s truth or attendance or something else? Christ should be the foundation. Then, is the church welcoming? Are the people loving and friendly? Of course, we must remember that they are human. Expect flaws and imperfections. People are people. We all have issues. What kind of ministries do they have and how can I get involved and serve? Church is not just a service to attend. We all have a part. Then, it is a matter of personal preference. music, style of preaching, etc. I like contemporary Christian music. I love to see musical talent (of which I have none), I love a good dynamic speaker. But we shouldn’t get bogged down on some of these things. We are there to worship God, not be entertained.
What do the scriptures say about what a church should be? What is God’s desire in a church?
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
The early church was more about being a part of each others’ lives; helping one another, praying for each other, teaching and learning, worshiping and eating together. Jesus said to love each other and that is how people will know we are His disciples.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. Remember the prisoners as if chained with them—those who are mistreated—since you yourselves are in the body also.
Being a part of each others’ lives is key. How can you show love if you don’t even know one another? It’s more than just showing up once a week for a worship service. It’s about how we treat each other. It’s about being family. It’s about showing grace and forgiveness and pursuing Christ’s character. It’s about unity in Christ.
But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
This what the church should look like. May you be blessed by God the Father and our Lord Jesus and may His grace abound in you and be shared with all those around you.