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When you think of “church” what do comes to mind? Do you think of the church as an organization or as an organism?
 
An organization is an organized body of people with a particular purpose. It’s about structure and order. An organism is a whole with interdependent parts, a living thing. Based on what the New Testament teaches and demonstrates concerning the church, you would definitely believe the church is an organism. The church is a living system.
 
The Apostles never viewed the church as an organization. Instead, they viewed it as an organism — a body of Christ. The church was intended to be the manifestation, extension, and representation of Jesus here on earth after His ascension into heaven. See 1 Corinthians 12:27-28; Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18.
 
So if the church is “body of Christ” it should also be influential and irresistible like Jesus. So why is church so resistible in today’s culture? Why has the church seemingly lost its influence? The answer: the church has drifted from its intended identity.
 
Read: Matthew 16:13–18. What we find in this passage is the first time Jesus uses the word Church. Jesus predicted he would build it and that nothing, including death, would stand in his way. But something else of extraordinary significance was communicated during this exchange. Something that the English translation of the Bible misses. Specifically, the meaning of the term translated church.
 
Greek term: ekklesia means a gathering of people called out for a specific purpose. Ekklesia never referred to a specific place, only a specific gathering. See 1 Peter 2:4-5.
 
If the Greek word means gathering, why doesn’t our English Bibles just say ‘gathering’? Where did the word church come from?
 
“Church” Origins: Constantine, Roman religion, adoption of pagan worship themes, basilicas built in honor of martyrs, “kirche”
 
The German term kirche and the Greek term ekklesia refer to two very different ideas. A kirche is a location. An ekklesia is a purposeful gathering of people. You can lock the doors of a kirche. Not so with the ekklesia of Jesus.
 
This shift in vocabulary signaled a dramatic shift in emphasis and direction. The church was no longer a grassroots movement built upon the simple understanding of who Jesus is. The church became synonymous with a location.
 

Over the years people exchanged being the church with going to the church.

 
This transition in thinking proved dangerous to the effectiveness and health of the church. This shift also led to an era of church history that can only be described as horrific (crusades). While it’s amazing that the church survived the persecution of the first century, it may be more amazing that it survived the institutionalization and corruption of the centuries that followed.
 
But it did survive. Jesus promised it would. As it turned out, the kirche of man could not contain the ekklesia of Jesus. From the first century through the twenty-first century there has always been a remnant, a group who refused to substitute kirche for the ekklesia of Jesus. There have always been and will always be followers of Christ who refuse to define church in terms of location alone.
 
Why? The church is a movement with a divinely inspired mission. The church is not a monument to maintain history, it is a movement that multiplies hope. It is not an organization for Christ that dispenses information, instead it is an organism of Christ (body) which brings transformation to our world.
 
From the very beginning (Acts 2) the church was irresistible. See Acts 9:31.
 
What is church? It is a movement of people called out for a singular purpose: to know Christ and make him known. The goal of the church is to be irresistible and influential, just like Jesus.
 
The church is not a location, it is a vocation. Christ intended His church to be a movement engaging our culture with the hope of the gospel.
 

The church is not a place to escape the world, it is a movement through which we engage the world.

 

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