What is a “church” ?
- A building used for public Christian worship, and house of worship;
- The hierarchy of clergy of a Christian organization, especially the Roman Catholic Church or the Church of England;
- Old English “cirice” related to the Dutch “kerk.” Based on medieval Greek “kurikon” meaning “the Lord’s” (house).
What is a “church” ?
- From the Greek word “ekkiesia” which means “an assembly” or “called out ones.” The root meaning of “church” from “ekkiesia” means people, not a building or organization.
- The “Church” is the “Body of Christ,” of which He is the Head. The “Body of Christ” is made up of all “believers” in Jesus Christ.
- There is the “universal” church and the “local” church.
Where did the early “churches” meet?
- The first “assemblies” or “churches” met in people’s homes, such as the home of St. Peter’s mother-in-law;
- Many also gathered in the Temple Courts in Jerusalem;
- After the persecution in Jerusalem, many left the city and gathered in homes all around the Mediterranean Sea.
- The first “church building” or “proper church” is believed to be a cave underneath Saint Georgeous Church in northern Jordan, built in 230 AD. A total of 30 “churches” have been unearthed in Rihab, Jordan.
- Dura Europos on the Euphrates River was a house converted into a church around 240 AD. There were probably several examples of this.
- Construction of “church buildings” probably didn’t begin until after 313 AD when Christianity became legal in the Roman empire.
Here is another definition of a “church” :
A “Church” is the basis of operations for the advancement of the Kingdom of God in Individuals, in Homes and Families, in Our Community.
An Example: In a military base (basis of operations) there are many people. Though there are many people, there is but one “Mission.” The many people each execute their particular “job” or “assignment” which contributes toward the successful completion of the main “Mission.”
The Universal Church has many people, but let’s focus on the local church. Though there are many people, there is but one “Mission.” The many people each execute their particular “job” or “assignment” which contributes toward the successful completion of the main “Mission.”
In “church–talk” a “job” is assigned by the Holy Spirit of God and is often referred to as a “spiritual gift.” There are many expressions of these “jobs” or “assignments.” Some are carried out within the “church” to encourage other Christians, or heal them, or etc. Other “gifts” are carried out away from the church but within the community to advance the Kingdom of God (the mission for the church).