Defining Church

Church , Spirituality Mar 14, 2015 No Comments

On the Giving Up Church for Lent journey, I’ve decided to ask and consult friends, acquaintances and authors about what their definitions of the church are and if in fact, according to their definitions, I can really GIVE UP church. Of course, I look to Scripture’s definitions as well.

Friend #1 “Church is Ekklesia – the gathering of those called out by God.” She emphasizes called out  in a way that in the past, I have glossed over. Her interpretation of this clause is to be summoned by God outside of the walls of the institution. “The church is what we do outside of the building and the bureaucracy of the church assembly.”

Verdict – I can’t give that up.

Friend #2 “Recently, after the death of my father and planning his funeral services at the family church in the Midwest, I have come to understand the church as a place of belonging, also.” She mentions that most of her life her core ideology of the church has been a community that is of service, justice and mission. Through the warmth of the community in the family church after his death, she has begun to realize that church is both — justice, mission, service and a place where we can return.

Verdict – I long for that.

Photo by Ben Gray @photobgray

Ephesians 3:7-10 “Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rules and authorities in the heavenly places.” This is a cosmic task, no doubt but the phrase “rich variety” causes me pause. Does the church live up to this task of revealing the richness of God’s wisdom?

Verdict – I dare not give up seeking.

In a few weeks, I’ll explore the definition of the church by saints who minister to me through their writings: Amy Plantinga Pauw, John W. De Gruchy, Kathleen Norris, MLK and Delores Williams.

In the meantime, if you’d like to share… Tell me how you might define the church.


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