What is the Church?

What is the church? We in Christian circles (or in “church” circles) hear the word a lot, but what exactly does it mean? As we enter a new year, it is important that the church people especially know what they are talking about when they use or hear the word “church.” The word is used as a general term for people in Christianity, for example, the “Church in America” or the “condition of the Church.” It is used for any particular congregation of Christians, such as “the church that Pastor George Hancock-Stefans pastors.” It is used to speak of a particular meeting of the congregation, as in “I am going to church this morning.” Another meaning of the word “church” is the building where the congregation meets. All of these are accepted meanings of the word “church.” But just what is the church, as a local regular gathering of Believers and seekers, to worship? Some hold the concept that the church exists to meet the personal needs of its members. This is a partial truth. But when we create the impression that the church exists primarily to meet the needs of its members, the church is soon looked upon as irrelevant and futile. Yes, the church is here to minister to its members’ needs, to help each one in his or her walk with God and with their personal needs or problems — but first, the church is here to fulfill God’s purpose in the world. That is, to call out a people for His name, to so communicate God’s love as to bring many more to experience it, and so have lives of meaning and purpose, bringing glory to God and fulfilling the purpose for which they were created.

Dr. Richard L. Shaw Ph.D., Pastor


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