The Big Question 29: What Does It Mean to Belong to a Christian Church?
Oct 10, 2018 1843
What does it mean to belong to a Christian church?
I’ll start with what the church is not, and this might surprise you.
The church isn’t a building. It’s actually the people. The Christian church existed long before there were church buildings.
The church isn’t a specific denomination. If you look down the road you might see a church building. And there might be a sign at the front that tells you that this is an Anglican, or Baptist, or Uniting Church. None of those denominations are the church, but the people in them can all be part of the Christian church.
The church isn’t a religious institution. What I mean by this is that churches as you see them these days are typically legal or incorporated entities, institutions with their hierarchy and organisational structures. Again, as useful as these things may be, they don’t define the church either. The Christian church existed way before the institutions themselves, and extends way beyond them.
The church isn’t a set of rules about what to do and not to do. Unfortunately, that’s what often comes to the minds of many people when they think of “church,”, based on cultural stereotypes or their own negative experiences. But that’s not what the church is about.
So, what is the church?
The church is the gathering of people who are with Jesus, wherever they are, and however they gather.
The church is a family of people who recognise that they have been saved by Jesus. They’ve accepted God as their father, and they’re just part of the family, all brothers and sisters.
Because of that, they’ve got each others’ backs. They can turn to each other in the tough times, knowing that they won’t be judged, but that instead they’ll find acceptance and healing.
The church is a people with a purpose. What they’ve discovered is so good that they want to tell everyone, and share it with others.
Well, that’s the ideal, isn’t it? And, most of it is right, except for the bit that I didn’t tell you.
And that is that the church is full of normal everyday people like you and me, and they can’t always live up to what church is meant to be. So, what do you do with people like that? You love them.
So, with that in mind, let me say it like this. Church is a community where you belong, where you worship God, and you love others.
And if you go to church with that mindset, you’ll do just fine.