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What is church? Is this a question you have ever asked or are you one who says, “I can’t define it, but I’ll know it when I see it”?
As I travel, I ask this question and listen as Christian leaders define church.
What I hear most is that church is beautiful and amazing. Jesus made church so adaptive that she can go into absolutely any situation, meet needs, and thrive. The church is Jesus’ great gift to us.
All well and good, but what IS church?
In this 2-minute video, I present the 3/5 focus of church: who church is and what church does.
The organized church has fallen into disfavor these days, but Lewis Chafer reminds us, “the organized church is recognized in the New Testament. A church existed wherever a group of believers met together in the bonds of fellowship. This meeting of Christians answered the fundamental meaning of the name church. They were a called-out assembly.”1
Miroslav Volf makes the case that two or three families who powerfully commit to Jesus Christ defines them as a church: “A church is an assembly, but an assembly is not yet a church. An indispensable condition of [church] is that the people assemble in the name of Christ. Gathering in the name of Christ is the precondition for the presence of Christ in the Holy Spirit… ‘where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them’ (Matthew 18:20).”2
But not every assembly of believers is a church. The difference between a group of people doing a Bible study and a group of people being a church is easily and perhaps best defined by their commitment to the 3/5 focus.
This 3-minute video explains.
1 Chafer, Lewis Sperry. 1980. Chafer Systematic Theology. Dallas, Tx: Dallas Seminary Press, vol 4, p.145
2 Volf, Miroslav. 1998. After our Likeness: The church as the image of the Trinity. Grand Rapids, MI: William B Eerdmans Publishing Co, pp135-136