Yesterday I wrote about communication. Today, I want to provide an example of what I mean by taking the time to understand what someone is trying to communicate.
What’s the first thing you think when you read “local church”?
If you’re like most in our Western culture, you think of some form of building. Maybe you picture a steeple and stained glass, or maybe a modern building with all the gadgets. Either way, the first thought is typically a location. Yet, the Bible never describes the church as a building or location.
The word translated “church” is ekklesia, which means – an assembly or gathering. The church is always people gathered together following Jesus.
More and more, I do hear people making this distinction of the people being the church and the gathering spot is simply that – a place to come together. However, the place itself is not the church. There’s really no such thing as a “church building.”
Now, let me dig a little deeper. Even those who recognize that the ekklesia is God’s people gathered together still seem to struggle with this next question.
How many people does it take to be an ekklesia?
You see, even those who get that it’s not the building often see a “local church” as being a fairly large number of people gathered together. What’s the magic number?
Or maybe that’s the wrong question. Another definition for ekklesia is “the whole body of Christians scattered throughout the earth.” So, we’re the church both gathered and scattered.
Why does this matter?
I’ve come across several articles and other teachings just this week talking about the importance of being “committed to a local church.” And, I agree, this is a vital part of being the ekklesia. However, how we define “local church” matters.
If we’re going by the Bible, there’s no specific minimum requirement. One verse says where two or three are gathered in Jesus name, He is there (Matthew 18:20). The specific context is dealing with helping people resolve conflict and being in agreement, so, it’s not a stretch at all to recognize this would be ekklesia.
I admit this is probably more meaningful to me than most people, as I am strongly biased in favor of smaller gatherings. My point is simply when someone says we need to be “committed to the local church” I agree, provided what is meant is “build strong relationships with others.” And for most of us, that’s best done in very small gatherings.
Today’s Good News is God doesn’t have a minimum requirement for how many are gathered for it to be His church, His ekklesia – the one He said He would build and the gates of hell are powerless against (Matthew 16:18).
Don’t feel like you’re any less God’s ekklesia if you gather with just a few friends. He is with you, His Spirit will lead you, and you will find the power and strength of deep meaningful relationships when you invest your life into the lives of a few others – and that’s Good News.
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