What image comes to mind when you hear the word “church”?
In a world where the Christian apologetic is under scrutiny, Andy Stanley suggests intriguing insights in his book entitled “Irresistable” on the:
- New vs. Old Covenant
- the Resurrection
- deeply held theological assumptions.
In the discussion about the church he identifies the first time the term is used in scripture. In Matthew 16:17-18 Jesus says to Peter: “… and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
The author goes on to say this is a future part of the New Covenant.
In 1522, William Tyndale began translating the Greek New Testament into English. The Greek word “ekklesia” is accurately translated as “assembly” or “gathering”. The word “church” is not a translation, but a substitution – and a misleading one at that.
Stanley says, that the term “church” should not have appeared in the text at all. Tyndale lost his battle over the term, and others; along with his life. For this reason, “ekklesia” is substituted with our word “church” and used in the scriptures more that 100 times after this.
This makes a tremendous difference in the way we coach, teach and disciple. The connotation of church is very different than the term assembly – as in a gathering of people (whether it be a civic gathering, an assembly of soldiers or an assembly of idol manufacturers as in Acts 19:28-29). What Tyndale was attempting to do was set the record straight.
Today, I imagine, if you surveyed 100 Christians and asked them how they would describe the term “church”, that description would include a building or campus, where people gather for worship. They might describe an organization vs. and organism. Or they might think of the cultural interpretation of the church; whatever that might be in their context.
Which leads me to suggest the following 5 exercise of a local church. These are intended to be broad is scope. The question is intended to help you reflect on your gathering of Jesus Followers.
5 Exercise of a Church
Exercise #1: A community of Jesus Followers loving God Together
- How are you and your community of Jesus Followers expressing your love of God?
Exercise #2: A community of Jesus Followers loving their neighbor together
- How are you and your community of Jesus Followers loving your neighbor?
Exercise #3: A community of Jesus Followers making Apprentices of Jesus together
- How are you and your community of Jesus Followers making disciples together?
Exercise #4: A community of Jesus Followers collaborating with other communities to reach their city
- How are you and your community of Jesus Followers collaborating with other gatherings of Jesus Followers to accomplish the mission of Jesus in your city?
Exercise #5: A community of Jesus Followers stewarding all their resources in God-honoring ways
- How are you and your community of Jesus Followers stewarding all their resources in God-honoring ways?
Every leader and network of leaders will have their definition of “church”. Reflect on the core exercises Jesus had in mind when he spoke to Peter and his intention for us today. Here are three questions to help you identify how to move forward in your thinking about His community of followers that he has entrusted to your care:
- What exercises are you doing well?
- What exercises are a challenge?
- Which exercises do you need to address now?
Here are a few coaching resources to help you guide leaders.