Webster defines “church” as “a building for public and, especially, Christian worship”. In fairness, it does offer a secondary definition as “a body or organization of religious believers”.
The word “church” comes from the Greek word “ekklesia” which is “an assembly or gathering of the called-out ones.” In Romans 16:5, Paul clearly refers to the church as a group of Christians attending worship together in a private home. In Ephesians, Paul again refers to the church as the body of Christ.
Perhaps most importantly, what do you think of when using the word “church” in a sentence? I suspect it’s often a reference to where we are going rather than who we are going to see and fellowship with.
* We go to church on Sunday or Wednesday.
* We need to drop something off at church.
* I need to…. at church next week.
Perhaps it’s understandable that we use the term “church” in this way. Words such as store, school, library, and home, all represent physical structures. The use of these terms is a shorthand way of providing location.
My only point is that thinking of “church” as just a place we go, rather than the public worship we experience, allows us to become immune to the true meaning of why we show up on Sunday mornings. When I was first saved, I was as an adult and in my childlike Christian state I saw no need for congregational “church”. For the first few months of our newfound faith, Judy and I worshiped at home with the kids, watching Charles Stanley. The more I learned about this new relationship with Christ, the better I understood the full scope of Luke 10:27. More specifically, I began to realize that there was wisdom in 1 Cor. 12:12-31 where Scripture talks about the value of many different talents and gifts coming together to worship as one body. I soon realized that our small family, new in our faith, simply did not have enough body parts to function on our own. We needed the mutual accountability, encouragement, and discipleship that comes from a “church”, an ekklesia, a gathering of the called-out ones.
Pastor Jarrod made the comment last Sunday that many consider a “regular church attender” someone who makes it to church two or three times a month. As you struggle to add one more thing to your crowded calendar, having to deal with getting kids up, dressed, and out the door, as well as all the other distractions life in this country throws at you, don’t underestimate the value of staying connected to the vine through fellowship with other believers in congregational worship.
Hebrews 10:24-25: ” And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”