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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

21 Mar '12

What is the church and why does it matter?

Posted by T.J. Addington in church health, Jesus, spiritual formation
When you hear the word church what comes to mind? For most of us it is probably a building with a bunch of people, programs, Sunday services, and a full time pastor or staff. Only one of those definitions is actually part of the real definition of church - people. Our common definition of church is very different than what we read about in the New Testament.

In the New Testament the church was a community of Christ followers who gathered regularly for worship and fellowship under defined leadership with Jesus as the head and the goal and whose mission was to grow in Jesus and share the Gospel with those around them. Typically they met in a home and had a bi-vocational pastor. They were about Jesus and people and a God given mission.

We often think of church as about programs but in fact a real church is about Jesus. It is about worshiping Him (not being entertained), following Him (life transformation) and making Him well known (telling others about Him). He is the central focus, the main thing, and the goal of our lives and worship.

It is very easy for both congregations and their leaders to take their eyes off of Jesus who is the focus of the church and put it on ourselves and our programs. It is also easy to define success as how many people come on a weekend which is usually a reshuffling of believers from other churches. In truth, the true definition of success of a church is true spiritual transformation (heart, thinking, priorities and relationships) which will result in growth because others will be impacted by our lives. 

It is instructive to read the book of Acts and see the church through the eyes of Scripture. We often have much more of a cultural definition of church than we do a biblical definition. The danger in this is that we may end up with more cultural Christianity than we do Biblical and Jesus centered Christianity. While church leaders pursue their definition of success many in the congregation long for them to simplify and make Jesus the central focus, the main thing and the goal of our lives and worship. Jesus might to.