Monday, May 9, 2011

Don't Go to Church

I've recently become aware of a subtle flaw in my vocabulary, specifically the phrase, "I go to church."

How can you go "to" church?

The word translated "church" in the New Testament comes from the Greek word "ekklesia" which essentially means "the called out ones" or "an assembly". In the context of Christianity, this would be "a body of believers". Taking our (my) definition a bit further, "church" means "the body of Christ".

"so we...are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another."
Romans 12:5

"Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it."
I Corinthians 12:27

Ok, now that I've chosen my own proof texts for my own soap box, let's get back to the issue at hand....

It makes no sense (grammatically or theologically) to say,

"I go to church."

What does that mean?

"I go to body of believers."?
"I go to body of Christ."?
"I go to group of called out ones."?


Or what about, "I enjoyed the service at church today."

"I enjoyed the service at group of Christians."?

You could however say,

"to the church of God that is in Corinth" (I Corinthians 1:2)
"to the churches of Galatia" (Galatians 1:1)
"the church throughout all Judea" (Acts 9:31)
"there were in the church at Antioch" (Acts 13:1)

My point is this - the church isn't a place, or a building. It's a group of people.

People who follow Christ.

And do what He said.

As if He was doing it.

Like we were His body. (actually, that's kind of the idea)

Isn't all of this just being a little (or a lot) picky about words?

Eugene Peterson once said, "We cannot be too careful about the words we use, we start out using them, and they end up using us."

See, when we think the church is a building. We start fighting for the building. We get upset about the color of carpet. Or whether or not there's a pulpit on the stage. Or what people wear when they come into the church building.

Side Note: If Christians are the church, shouldn't we wear "church" clothes 24 hours a day?

But when we understand that the church is a group of Christ-followers, we start fighting to make disciples. We start fighting to keep each other accountable. We join arm in arm with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to love God and love people.

We start fighting for the gospel.

So do yourself a favor - stop going to church.

1 comment:

  1. Ooh, I like this. Especially the comment about Christ's body! :)